Distress Call

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.

Man in Flight

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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 7.36.45 PM

The Miss Killer Audio

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, 20170619_094707only 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.

00:00 – 00:08 — wind
00:08 – 00:20 — “Miss Lynch”
00:20 – 00:26 — police scanner chatter
00:26 – 00:33 — “Miss Killer”
00:33 – 00:35 — international airport terminal?
00:35 – 00:40 — helicopter
00:40 – 01:02 — silence
01:02 – end — helicopter

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.

*Note: Orders for the Bulletin of Lost Signals #1 remain open, as do submissions for recipes.


Ore Knob Copper Deposit

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



Of the 11,336 audio files archived at Lost Signals, several dozen are from the Appalachia region, field recorded in the 1930s, and of those several dozen, a handful are recollections (often secondhand) of an explosion in the wilderness, followed by “something” flying through the air, followed by a figure apparently clad in uniform whose eyes “roll around” in his head “like balls of fire” before the person takes off through the air again. This recording–tape #9,045a–is the most complete, uninterrupted version. Dubbed “firehead” by the original Lost Signals archivist, the recording was misfiled (purposely, it seems) for years under “forest fires” and only recently rediscovered and correctly filed. Listening notes:

  • 0:40 / “something coming across in the air”
  • 2:18 / “his eyes began to roll over and over”
  • part 2 of the recording–#9,045b–is just hissing static
  • part 3 of the recording–#9,045c–is a recantation, or disavowal, of the contents of part 1

Fragmentary Elegy for Ricardo Piglia

The Museum of the Novel in Buenos Aires – that was once housed above a boxing gym on the Avenida Rivadavia – disappeared this year not long after the great novelist Ricardo Piglia passed away. The museum was the site of intersecting plotlines and home to the automaton created by Macedonio Fernandez to contain the memories and spirit of his wife Elena. The automaton outlived her husband and became the source of hundreds of stories that escaped from the white nodes of language hidden in her circuitry. A number of nodes – no one knows how many – unknotted during the clandestine removal process, and caused power surges along the fibre optics of the new broadband infrastructure in the tunnels beneath the Argentine capital. Subliminal pulsations of light, that flash via the screens of international video calls, have caused stories to jump across continents in fragments, and to emerge as automatic writing on the mobile phones of sensitives as far away as Mongolia and Australia. It appears that the automaton Elena may be composing and transmitting a vast elegy for Ricardo Piglia, who did so much to preserve her immortality. Programmers from the Far South Project are working to reconstitute the complete text, but they are unsure that it will ever be possible, or even if Elena intends it to be. —David Enrique Spellman




While, as a matter of principle, those of us who remain at Lost Signals after the purge favor incoherence, we have our limits. When our headquarters moved–in 1959–from Palm Springs to our current location in the American Midwest, we did so primarily because the atmosphere was clearer out here, signal wise, and rickety equipment (which consisted of three “instant-on” Hoffman TransSolar radios, two Zenith Royal 50s, an Emerson 911, a Westinghouse H732P7, and a few vacuum tube farm radios) lasted longer, especially the filaments.

Why bring all this up? Well back then lost (they were called “stray” for some time) signals were few and far between, conspicuously so, and the choice of whether to archive or not was simple: archive everything. Recently, however, we receive and capture so many lost signals that narrative creep has set in. That is, we find ourselves scrutinizing the signals for meaning and, as is often the case, when no meaning can be found or imposed, we throw up our arms (those of us who are still limbful) in frustration, and and move on to the next signal.

But on occasion we make exceptions, case in point being this, which we received in 2014 and are now archiving, with no interpretive notes or finding aids, in the spirit of the old Lost Signals, prior to the tyranny of interpretation.