Immaculate telegraphy seeks to test if electronic communication could have occurred at any point in history given the knowledge base and desire. The project is crafted through an attempt to create an electronic technology from scratch in the wilderness, armed with no modern tools except information from the Internet. In a first step towards a new electronic information network, detached from the physical legacy of industry, my efforts will follow an accelerated timeline of human technology, beginning necessarily in Paleolithic techniques, and arriving at a voltage-producing battery and a telegraph switch, which will permit active electronic communication. Forgoing all tools and materials produced by the artifact legacy we are a part of, I will be attempting to build the voltaic pile battery and telegraph key from metals smelted out of handpicked ore in a primitive pit furnace. As a web performance, I will sit at the completed telegraph station, typing instructions on how to build a telegraph using no tools. A/D conversion through an arduino and web-based Morse code translation will connect my station to the existing Internet. The chain of artifacts leading to electronic communication will hopefully be presented in a physical exhibition concurrent with the web performance. As it is understood now, the tools I will need to create are a flint knife, bow drill, flint axe, stone hammer, charcoal oven, bag bellows, smelting furnace and crucible. The information age presents two divergent possibilities: one is that we are heading to a state in which broad-reaching information is available to every node in the network, and an auto-didactic population could absorb and implement any aspect of the knowledge. The other possibility is that we are on the long stem of an industrial legacy of ever-increasing complexity, a complexity that will become or already has become irreducible. Without this massive chain reaction of industrial feats through generations, and the processes that are constantly obsolescing and becoming forgotten, we could not have the world that we have today. Immaculate Telegraphy tries to imagine that it would be possible to spontaneously restart the system, without the subconscious industrial chain that is implicit in every modern tool. Of course, a laborious telegraph is a far cry from the semiconductors, transmission networks and protocols of our Internet, but the project seeks to suggest that there is a transcendence to information availability, and that individuals at any time could reconnect and maintain such availability, regardless of the state of industry at large.
March through May
Preliminary internet research has already begun, as well as a successful foray into fashioning primitive rope. Fire by bowdrill has been attempted reaching smoke but not self-propagating flame. Site selection and further trials will take place in the last week of April in Mineral County, Montana, where copper and zinc ore are available at the ground surface. I will also experiment with the form of the documentation.
June through August
A dedicated block of time, at least a month beginning in June at the chosen site, will hopefully allow me to arrive at smelted metal. Preliminary web publishing of documentation will also take place. Once metal is succesfully smelted, the construction a voltaic pile and telegraph switch will be be relatively simple.
August through May
A full internet tutorial will be created demonstrating the process leading to a completed telegraph. A digital interface for the telegraph will be built based on an arduino microprocessor. A programmer will be sought to design a applet that can receive the telegraph transmission and convert it from morse code into text. The chain of artifacts will be shipped to New York. A physical location for a gallery exhibition of the artifacts will be sought, corresponding to the online performance of operating the telegraph.
This project has recieved the Eyebeam Honorary Residency for the summer 2009, an access award without a stipend. The inital expenses are anticipated to be primarily travel, as the materials will all be free, gathered outside of existing economies. Rhizome's award would help ensure that the telegraph is given a platform for exhibition on the web, and that the artifacts will be able to come to New York for a concurrent physical exhibition.
travel by plane and train $800
web and A/D conversion development and hardware $1000
shipping of artifacts $300
artist fee $1000
“Beam me up” Xcult.org Switzerland June 2009 (upcoming)
Debatty, Regine We Make Money Not Art “Conflux:Vertical Bed” 2008
RESIDENCIES AND AWARDS
Eyebeam Art and Technology Center Honorary Resident
Eyebeam Roadshow Univeristy of Iowa, Iowa city, Iowa November 2008
Bard College Bachelor of the Arts May 2003
The Vertical Bed. Device allowing user to sleep in a standing position (watch video) 2008
3:2 An experiment in time travel. Subject lived in isolation for three weeks adjusting to a slow clock, experiencing only two weeks 2008
Remember. Automated Memory device using flashbulbs to leave retinal afterimages 2007
The Olfactograph. Machine to record subtle odors, storing them in glass jars for the activation of olfactory memories. 2007
Alvin. Electronic simulation of a brain using speakers, electromgnets, and metal powder to grow circuits 2005