Signals from the Edge

Can you bring us a signal from a distant zone? ClimateCultures editor Mark Goldthorpe set a challenge for Members: “Create a small artistic expression of the more-than-human in the form of new signal for humanity. Is it a message — whether meant for our own species or for another kind entirely but which we overhear by chance; an artefact of some other consciousness; or an abstraction of the material world? Something in any case that brings some meaning for us to discover here and now, as we begin to address the Anthropocene in all its noise. Signals from the edge.”

A small piece of sense — common or alien — amidst the confusion of human being: signals from the edge.

A light from before
Photograph: Mark Goldthorpe © 2018

Whatever signal you create — whether it’s an image, a short text, a sound, a storyboard, a dream sequence, a combination of any of these or something other — it will be something we’re likely to miss if you don’t draw our attention to it. Is it a strong signal, or a weak one caught up in its own background noise? You might also want to play with the idea of the background noise in some way, or omit it entirely and offer us just the signal, filtered.

Where does your signal come from? The source zone might be distant from us in time or in space, in scale (from the quantum to the cosmic), in sensory perception (in a different sensitivity or range to ours, or an utterly new sensation), or in any other aspect of experience or imagination. If it carries a message, is it explicit or implicit, coded or clear, instantly familiar even if remote, or entirely alien?

What edge is your signal representing? It might be: a place; a boundary; a transition; an experience; a capability; a sensory range; a technology; a consciousness; a category; an uncertainty; an unknowing.

This is deliberately broad, even vague, to offer you as much room as possible for interpretation. The choice is yours. The key things are:

  1. Offer a short creative piece (maybe 500 – 1,000 words, or one to five images, or up to three minutes of audio or video).
  2. Ideally, provide a short context or commentary piece alongside it.
  3. If you wish, provide some suggested links that people might follow to explore your inspiration for themselves.

Our Signals from the Edge creative challenge is complementary to our other series A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects. Unlike that one, this is not specifically object-oriented; make it as conceptual or as concrete as you like. Let your imagination go free-range!

Indiana Rivers: Signal from the Edge #3 – I Am Purpose

10 April 2020 — approx reading time: 5 minutes

Writer Indiana Rivers shares a short story exploring one person’s sense of purpose. Evoking ideas of conversation with the universe to illuminate times of zoonotic pandemic and climate crisis, Indiana reflects on the presence of signals from within.

Brit Griffin: Signal from the Edge #2 – Wildfire & Fox

28 August 2018 — approx reading time: 6 minutes

Writer Brit Griffin lives in Cobalt, Canada — a town that was born during the 1903 mineral rush. She shares a powerful account of signals to be detected in Cobalt’s burning forests and the cry of a fox.

Mark Goldthorpe: Signal from the Edge #1 – Pale.Blue

28 Feb 2018 — approx reading time: 7 minutes

ClimateCultures editor Mark Goldthorpe sets a new challenge: create small expressions of the more-than-human in the form of a signal for humanity. His inaugural signal appears as an alien encyclopedia entry cast adrift, backwards in time and space…