Charles Lindsay - Artist in Residence (A.I.R.) Program Director

Charles Lindsay

Charles Lindsay is a multi-disciplinary artist interested in technology, eco-systems, semiotics, and esoteric forms of humor. He creates immersive environments, sound installations, sculptures built from salvaged aerospace and bio-tech equipment, videos and photographs.

Lindsay recently migrated from his position as the SETI Institute’s first Artist in Residence (2011-2015) to the SETI AIR Program Director. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, artist in residence at Imagine Science Films and the innovator behind OSA EARS – a project designed to deliver real time sound from one of the world’s most bio-diverse rain forests to anyone anywhere with internet.

His career trajectory has been diverse, ranging from exploration geology in the arctic to photojournalism in the jungles of southeast Asia. He invented a carbon based imaging process and merged that with sound and sensors to create immersive installations. Lindsay received a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship for this “CARBON” work. Lindsay’s work has been profiled by WIRED, Motherboard,, Viralnet, NPR and CNN International.

During his second term as artist in residence Lindsay developed “CODE Humpback” - an installation combining ideas about encrypted signals and inter-species communication. His advisor / collaborator is SETI Institute scientist Dr. Laurance Doyle, who along with colleagues from UC Davis and the Alaska Whale Foundation used the mathematics of information theory to determine that humpback whale vocalizations have rule-structure complexity, what in human languages is called "syntax." The humpback communication system is an ancient global language - yet we remain effectively alien to each other. CODE Humpback debuted at The Bolinas Museum during the show ‘Transmit / Receive.’ It will be shown again at MassMoca in 2016.

Charles is developing many new artworks and installations. These include ‘Time Machines / Improbable Devices’ – sculptural assemblages giving voice and vision to deep time. “The Sound of a Quantum Computer Thinking” employs recordings made at NASA Ame’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab. “Ecotone” envisions a mobile space in which to de-contextualize live sounds from OSA EARS so they are experienced as though in an off earth / post earth environment. ‘The Sound of One Hand Clapping’ sculpture is in development using front edge 3D scanning / printing and reject parts from the Allen Telescope Array’s current upgrade.

The author of seven books of photographs, Lindsay has published with Aperture, Little Brown and Chelsea Green. His work has appeared in numerous international magazines including the New York Times Magazine, Blind Spot, Aperture, Natural History, Gastronomica, Audubon, Parabola, Orion, and GEO. He’s also worked with many of Japan’s leading publications. Lindsay is an active sound artist. He collaborates with Witness Relocation, SnazzyFx, Catherine Chalmers and participates with the Electronic Music Foundation.

Lindsay lectures widely. Recent appearances include:“Destination Unknown: Aliens, Art and Consensual Reality” at Rhodes House, for the 2014 class of Rhodes’ Scholars, and ‘Conversations on Media Culture and Practice’ at CalArts Center for Integrated Media. Charles has presented at Moogfest, the California Academy of Sciences, Stanford’s Department of Art and Art History, 100 Year Starship Symposium (DARPA), USC’s “Visions + Voices” performance series, Ear to the Earth, SwissNex, the American Museum of Natural History, Mountain Film, The School of Visual Arts, Pratt School of Art and Design, the Open Center NYC, IDEA CITY, and at The Hat Creek Observatory for SETI.