So-called information culture finds itself pre-occupied with the distinction between of “signal” to “noise ” - what seems like meaningful communication on one hand, or simply distracting “background” on the other. We tune across spectra of senses and semiotics, seeking moments of true contact; everything is signal and noise at once.
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The relic radar dish on Riva Beach at the mouth of the Black Sea listened for the fugitive rumbles of threats on the horizon, a Cold War artifact of suspicions still very much alive today. To hear a cryptic signal amongst the roiling noise of the sea's and the sky's vast expanses - sounds that will continue long after us and our human worries are long forgotten.
While their numbers have dwindled due to pollution and declining fish, dolphins and porpoises also must dodge the cargo ships that pass through the strait by the hundreds, their songs competing for bandwidth among the cacophony of engine noise. Professors Ayhan Dede and Tayfun Akgül research use hydrophonic recordings to explore this contested sound/noisescape
(image generously provided by Professor Ayhan Dede)
A metal dish flying through the void, Voyager has been listening to the electrodynamic tumult of outerspace for almost 40 years. This includes the ruckus between Io and Jupiter borne from the confluence of gravitational pull, magnetic fields, and plasma currents. As Voyager 1 listened to the charged currents’ whistling crackles, its own metal body was rattled by the electromagnetic vagaries rippling through space, turning the probe into a vessel of both signal and feedback. Like a dolphin in the noisy darkness trying to discern something from everything else or a cymbal constantly ringing, Voyager 1 continues on.
Voyager 1 is now it is message in a bottle, resonant vessel- the only human-made object to leave our solar system, carrying a gold-plated disc called ‘Sounds of the Earth’ with five hours of signal: whale song, waves breaking, the music of Mozart and Chuck Berry... quintessential record of signal and noise.
See here for a copy of the full recording.
The quintessential Ottoman instrument and noise that is a signal. Come use some mallets to make some music and some noise to add to universe of sonic wave action.
In 1989 Dr. Jeffrey Thompson released a new age classic which draws from Voyager I and II sonified plasma data heavily modulated to make a ambient easy-listening record. It even describes the sounds as kindred to dolphin song, a lovely circulating reference to the current project.
One of the many large shipping vessels that rumble through the strait everyday creating a watery cacophony of engine noise.
(Photo courtesy of Prof. Ayhan Dede)
Just down the street from the Galata Greek School where this project was installed, the strait's iconic mammals helping people communicate through, surprisingly, "land lines"! One has been turned into a shark, alas, at least a happy one.
There then is the origin. Noise and nausea, noise and nautical, noise and navy have the same etymology... Noise is not a phenomenon, all phenomena separate from it, figures on a ground, as a light in the fog, as any message, cry, call, signal must each separate from the hubbub that fills the silence, just to be, to be perceived, sensed, known, exchanged. As soon as there is a phenomenon, it leaves noise, as soon as an appearance arises, it does so by masking the noise. Thus it is not phenomenology but being itself. It is set up in subjects as well as in objects, in hearing and in space itself, in observers and observed...
- Michel Serres (1983)