Item #18,374 from the Lost Signals 35 mm reversal film archives, series C. This arrived at LS long ago, sometime in the autumn of 1968, from what can be gleaned. The boy in question (standing 4 from left) is, unfortunately, a familiar face here, whose name we are not yet prepared to reveal. (I.e., we are not yet equipped to defend ourselves from him once we expose him.) The camera in question, the one that hangs around his neck, does something terrible to those unfortunate to fall within its finder, its vision. It cripples them in a way that only gradually reveals itself, cripples them from within, a cancer of the soul, some have said, or else a cancer of spirit. In fact LS itself has lost to this crippledom a very dear archivist, in fact the very archivist who delivered this picture to us in ’68. This is the first of three images of “the boy” scheduled to be published here. We have to wait and gauge his response–and then settle upon our own response to his response–before pushing ahead with the other two posts.
When Lost Signals receives a tip about potential archival material in a remote location we generally send a small team out to scout the area, document the site, and collect samples to determine if full excavation is desirable. Such was the case earlier this summer when we were told of an abandoned hippie compound in southwest Illinois that supposedly housed old automobiles into whose seats had been sewn dollar bills with serial numbers that served as longitude and latitude coordinates. These coordinates, strangely, reflect the previous locations of the Lost Signals stations, beginning with the first one in 1838 and continuing with subsequent ones, after a series of arson fires destroyed them. (More information about the troubled and violent history of LS will be available in the Bulletin of Lost Signals, #1.)
Here is a short clip from the team’s arrival at the abandoned hippie compound, the first of thirteen barns on the 26-acre property, each housing broken down old cars with those dollar bills sewn into their seats.
On occasion there are artifacts from the archives that are unpublishable. Such is the case with an audio file so dangerous that it’s unlikely it has ever been listened to or heard. The file exists on a dedicated computer sealed in a soundproof studio in one of the rooms in the so-called “third basement” beneath the Lost Signals compound. It’s been played three times, in silence, and on one occasion its waveform image was captured, and is reproduced here. In 2002 an effort was made to re-create the audio from its waveform, the theory being that a version based on the source’s structural metadata might prove less toxic, if toxic at all. However, subsequent listening tests on mice proved, unfortunately, otherwise. The mice melted, which will be the subject of another posting.
So, the file exists, unlistenable as it is. Some would say it awaits its ideal listener, as a book awaits its ideal reader. For now, the closest we can come to hearing the file is the image below, undoubtedly a very poor iteration of the original.
The collective is pleased to announce a theme song for the archive, (itself from an archive, of course) which you will hear at the beginning of this and future audio postings. Grateful acknowledgement to K.A. Martin.
The audio below is one sample from a vast project, from 1981, to capture the voices of humans at play, for purposes that remain, for now, shrouded, to say the least. The audio itself came to us via shortwave radio transmission, and was captured, recorded, and archived by us in 1983. The source signal code suggests that the transmission was sent in late 1981, but only received (“intercepted”) by Lost Signals in 1983, meaning that the radio waves traveled very far–and for a very long time–before presenting themselves. We know now that the casualness–the banter–evident in the audio sample is forced, perhaps coerced.
In fact, some here at the archives believe that this audio is, in fact, nothing less than a distress call.
From a box individual frames from 16mm “no wave” films circa NYC 1978-1981 comes this frame taken from Amos Poe’s 1978 film The Foreigner. The man in flight is Eric Mitchell, and while the frame depicts a familiar scene in the film–as the foreigner is chased by unknown people for unknown reasons–it actually does not appear in the film at all. In fact, the film frame seems to depict a meticulously reconstructed moment that appears to have been in the film (to casual observers) but which, in truth, is entirely absent.
Why would someone go to the trouble of creating a false film frame from an obscure, underground 1978 film, and how did we detect is falseness? Second question first: the authentic version of The Foreigner was produced on acetate base film stock, common for the era. The frame in question, however, is a polyester film based, not used widely until the mid-1990s. Also, while it’s clear that every effort has been made by the forgers to capture a “1978 NYC environment,” there are several clues which point to the 1990s such as the street light bulb housing/casing, a shape which seems to evoke the 1970s, but which actually dates to decades later.
As to the first question, we understand that there are those who would undermine not only the Lost Signals archives, but the entire notion of historical archives themselves, slowly supplanting authentic, time-sourced samples with false, ahistorical ones. We here at LS were made to “discover” (through an anonymous tip that led us to a remote storage shed) this supposed trove of rare film frames and archive them as “real” when, in fact, they are anything but.
We see this as an opportunity, a chance to confront and expose those who would propagate archives across the world with reproduced–but slightly altered–versions of their authentic counterparts.
Often we receive an object through the mail that is not what it seems, case in point being a Lentar f=105 mm 1:4.5 enlarging lens, which arrived sometime in 1989. In our random sampling of the over 10,000 objects and files in the archives, we selected this lens last week for deeper inspection, only to discover a 1/8 inch microcassette audio tape carefully spooled around one of the lens’s inner mechanisms. After extraction and rough remastering we can present it here now, still uncertain not only about its meaning, but its very reason for being. The tape seems to be a very short mix-tape which we have dubbed “Miss Killer” for the sequence between 00:26 and 00:33. The entire contents are listed below.
What is the relationship between Miss Killer, Miss Lynch, and the other audio samples? Who is being asked questions, and by whom? Why the 22 seconds of silence? Our only clue is that Miss Killer shows up in several other Lost Signal items which have yet to be publicly catalogued here, including a yellowed newspaper clipping a child’s lullaby that references a “Miss Kill’re” and a torn piece of white linen stained with what appears to be a copious amount of blood.
The full title of the bulletin reads: The Ore Knob Copper Deposit North Carolina, and Other Massive Sulfide Deposits of the Appalachians. Published in 1967 by the United States Government Printing Office, the subtitle is: Effects of dynamic and thermal metamorphism on primary ore textures at Ore Knob are described, and similar Appalachian deposits are compared. The copy archived at Lost Signals contains, folded within one of the accompanying maps, written in French in fine dip pen, a note that seems to reference a page (“p. 109”) and a date (“24 Septembre 1648”). Proceeding along the lines that randomness is simply disarranged order (a basic tenant of those who established the archive) it’s been determined that the date refers to the death of Marin Mersenne, a French mathematician, philosopher, and music theorist who battled against the Brotherhood of Rosicricians, an occult group of well-educated alchemists who published several hoax books, etc.
Why the slip of paper should be folded into this particular map is, of course, the as-yet-unanswered question. This item remains one of the hundreds of open cases, cases returned to on a rotating basis for further investigation and speculation. —E. Edgewood