“The American Friend”

One of the “gentle” interrogations conducted on Canadian subjects in the late 1970s, this audio clip arrived at the Lost Signals southwest outpost in 1998, and was recently digitally restored. We are making it available in here in hopes that someone may be able to identify, if not the speakers themselves, then at least the region in Canada where this was recorded. The interrogation protocols are typical: use humor to disarm and relax the subject, then advance with innocuous questions relating to United States hegemony. During this era, interrogators were frequently women.

“Slt. Wtr.”

We think it means “Salt Water.” The clip, arriving as so many do, in the old FTP manner, is marked Slt. Wtr. 181890-87675108-09 – J. Kristeva. The Chelsea Wolfe segment suggests a possible time frame, but beyond that? We offer it here in hopes that someone might recognize this shore, this horizon. Until then, the archivists–under the direction of our temporary supervisor–will file this in the vast, temperature-controlled, deep-sediment vaults of the American midwest.



The Shut-Down Image

The slide shuts down-or de-activates–at night. Or in the dark. No one knows for sure. Several months ago during inventory of the slides holdings in bunker #11 one of our head archivists found herself suddenly lurched into darkness when the power cut-out during a violent electrical storm. We have all been trained to carry back-up night-vision goggles when in the bunker archives (who follows such protocols?) and so, and thus.

Can’t you imagine, for yourselves, what happened next? The archivist donned her goggles to continue her work when she noticed that–faintly illuminated by the red light of the emergency exit sign–each of the slides before her bore faint traces of their images, except for one. One that had shut-down, de-activated, or gone to sleep in the absence of direct light.

Also, time seems to pass in the image, although we have only just begin to document this. That is, the objects in the slide remain stationary, but appear to age, to decay, in real-time. We first noticed this with the two bushes on the easterly side of the house at far left, bushes that slowly turned brown (the effect of drought?) after several weeks.

But it is the first phenomenon–the shut-down–that captures our attention. The fact that the images de-activates or sleeps as a (hopeless) act of preservation against, it appears, time itself.

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Inaccessible Reproduction

This sequence of photocopied collage-art pieces began as a single reproduced image, posted anonymously in 1979 at divers locations not limited to Pomona, Budapest, and Düsseldorf. The A4 format suggested a European origin but little else.

According to anyone who has claimed to own more than one, it was impossible to retain multiple copies in one place before 2009. When duplicates were stored together, all but one of them would alter in a mysterious, always unseen process, becoming frames from an animated sequence initiated by the original sheet.  

Over the years, certain individuals who knew of the alleged enigma exploited it to help extend the animation. We are especially indebted to Pat Lassglen of Ypsilanti, who, on acquiring a purported 1979 original on eBay, stored several xeroxed groups of four in separate file cabinets over the course of 2002.

The sequence today appears complete (including several identical frames), and is likely to stay as is, since the enlargement procedure stopped working by all accounts in 2009. Its anonymity remains intact. —Colin Raff



Ghost Setting

The “ghost setting” on the XLR 53 Nikon was intended, it seems, as a stunt designed to capitalize on the setting fetish that characterized the shift from analog to digital. Only three prototype cameras were manufactured, and of those only one managed to be smuggled out of on the Nikon head offices in Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo. The footage is banal, except that the camera picks up audio frequencies undetected by the human ear. There is so much sound, fanged all around, not wanting to be found. Is it any wonder that the camera was scrapped, with a tag-line like that? In any case, the LS archives are in possession of 22 clips extracted from the only surviving camera. This is clip #3, with the ghost setting “on,” picking up frequency scraps otherwise undetectable.

Daily Distribution of Labor

Sometime during the early 1900s Lost Signals instituted a record-keeping system whose methods were labor based rather than item-archive based. Previous systems of categorization (dating back to our founding in the 1830s) had centered on the archival materials themselves; recording the labor necessary for archiving and cataloging was incidental. What do we know about why the shift to a record system based on labor, not objects? As usual, there is an abundance of physical evidence marking the evolution to labor, but the meaning of this evidence remains murky.

What we know is this: around 1902, Grace Gomez devised the “Daily Distribution of Labor” pages, printing them in booklets labelled “Time Book.” Each employee was given one of these booklets per month in order to keep a daily record of his or her labor in the archives. We’re fortunate that, despite the numerous purges of the archives, there remained–squirreled away beneath a cement floor–a complete, blank booklet, a page of which is pictured below. Why the booklets (and almost all references to Grace Gomez) were purged is not exactly clear, although we have our dark theories.


erin’s book

This video’s metadata indicates it was filmed last week at the Lost Signals Midwest Regional Branch by someone unknown to us. In other words, right under our noses. Since its beginnings in the 1830s, Lost Signals has had its share of moles, spies, turncoats, and even saboteurs. (Those of you who received Bulletin #1 know about the unfortunate legacy of arson-fires that have plagued our various headquarters.) Despite ever harsher, extra-legal measures to deal with spies and other disruptors, which we ourselves have documented (at great potential risk) to circulate here among our employees as a warning, these excursions against Lost Signals continue.

Why the saboteur has named this video file “erin’s book” is unclear, although we have our theories. In any case, we post it here for you, the curious.