Signals from the Edge

Can you bring us a signal from a distant zone? ClimateCultures offers Members a new challenge: to 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. A strong signal, or a noisy one caught up in its own background? 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 utterly new), 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 200 – 700 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!

I originally conceived this idea (not very originally) as a postcard: ‘send me an image for the front and a paragraph for the back’. I was going to call it ‘Postcards from the Edge’, but this seemed overly constricting. However, for every contribution we publish on ClimateCultures, I will send a unique postcard to the author, with an image and a text that I have selected or created, bringing them together by self-willed accident or design. As yet, I haven’t worked out what these will be or how I will come up with them, so this is my creative challenge too!

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

28 August 2019 - approx reading time: 6 minutes

For the second in our series, ClimateCultures welcomes Brit Griffin. Brit is a writer living in Cobalt in Ontario, Canada: a town that was born during Ontario’s last mineral rush in 1903, a silver rush that was pretty much over by 1919. Brit's account is a powerful one of signals to be detected in forests burning and in the cry of a fox. 

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

28 Feb 2018 - approx reading time: 7 minutes 

To start the series – and to see whether anyone bites – here is my personal contribution. It is not a template (I haven't even followed my own 'serving suggestion' particularly faithfully) and the fact that it picks up in some way from my own contribution to A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects is not a signal (however weak or coded) that others should look to that series for an idea or a model.