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

 

 

Inserts

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.

Residential Depopulation Atlas

The Residential Depopulation Atlas (mis-titled The Residential Population Atlas), published in 1966 by MIT Press, was one of many such reverse-Great Society works projects, different from each other in kind only. Although the term “planned shrinkage” was used ten years later by Roger Starr in connection with New York City’s mid-1970s (also planned) financial crisis, residential depopulation, much like the “deep state,” was a concept that left no record, that had no author. Unattributable until the publication of the MIT atlas the term had, by that time, been de-fanged and rendered as something barely worthy of academic study. Lost Signals acquired, via broadcast, four minutes of video, documenting the atlas until the recording is ended, violently, in a flood of red light. This clip is from the two-minute mark. —S. Martinez

The Surveillance Chamber

While searching for Gerardo Fischer, I came across a trench dwelling dug into a wooded hillside above a small town dump in Western Massachusetts. I thought the equipment obsolete and long since defunct. The moment I crossed the dark threshold a reel-to-reel tape clicked into life, and among the screens that I assumed were dead, three tubes flickered into silent life, monitors for cameras that I would fail to find, transmitting, as they were, from an unknowable source, a stream of images antic and alien. —David Enrique Spellman

The Administrator’s Office

The images are so banal as to be uncanny: a blinking digital clock, a gleaming metal name or door plate with no name affixed, some stapled-together papers lying face down to obscure their meaning. There’s a calmness in the fluorescent office area, a calmness which masks the churning deep beneath the surface. The nonsensical sound, such as it is, seems nothing more than a distraction, an invitation to interpret the video clip in all the wrong ways. But is it even a matter of interpretation, or are the captured moments here already predetermined? Interpretation presupposes a sort of free will. And what of the administrator herself, in what ways is she accountable, or does even asking that question put those who sent this to Lost Signals in danger? Maybe it started as a prank, who knows? Let’s film the administrator’s office–she’ll never know. But of course she knew. She knew even before they did. In fact, she’s always known. —E. Edgewood

Sister from Another Planet

The images–familiar, if not nostalgic–remind us of something, but what? The sound is another story, and in fact constitutes the “another” from this post’s title. Lost Signals received this broadcast (we are obligated to call it that) at the very beginning. Which is to say: were it not for this so-called “lost signal” lost signals would not exist. The green grain of this video (and the sense of an ending with a new beginning) is a gendered thing, according to those here who have striven–over the past six years–to unbug this video and audio so that you, whom-or-what-ever you are, can see it now.

(What) Bright Future

I worked in solitude. . .
There is a certain slant of light (is there not?) that suggests the presence of the larger universe. Perhaps this occurs sometime before twilight, whenever that may be. There is the orange glow of the sun whose ridiculously-traveled-through cold space–approximately 8.3 minutes–rays reach us, as if happiness could be delayed any longer, not even one-second longer, than that. Bright. Brighter yet.
. . . in my own formal way

As these lost moments, lost signals, arrive here, their particular beauty and strangeness remind us not of who we are, but who we might become. Our better, brighter selves, waiting for us to remember.
–M. Sanders, M. S., E. O.