Charles Lindsay - Artist in Residence (A.I.R.) at the SETI Institute, 2011-2015
Charles Lindsay is a multi-media artist interested in technology, pattern recognition and biomimicry. He balances his time in the studio, an environment suffused in equipment, instruments and software, with extended periods exploring remote natural environments. Lindsay is the SETI Institute’s ﬁrst Artist in Residence and a Guggenheim Fellow. His career trajectory has been diverse, ranging from exploration geology in the arctic to photojournalism in the jungles of southeast Asia. In the last decade 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.
During his second term as artist in residence Lindsay is developing “CODE Humpback,” an installation combining ideas about encrypted signals and inter-species communication. His advisor / collaborator is SETI Institute scientist Laurance Doyle, who along with colleagues from UC Davis and the Alaska Whale Foundation have 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.
The RCA Morse Code transmitting and receiving stations at Bolinas and Pt. Reyes California are the last of their kind in the U.S. to maintain this once vital maritime language. With the support of engineers Richard Dillman and Steve Hawes, Lindsay transmitted and received two messages, 'what are the whales saying?' and 'all we need is love.' Aside from the implied meaning of the prose theses messages become ‘musical’ as morse code. Lindsay is extending the sonic aspect of the work by converting audio to MIDI, to enable parallel layered expressions of the same ‘coded idea’ through software instruments and samplers.
The installation space will be occupied by a number of metal sculptures based on the scoop shaped air vents of early 20th century ships - an aesthetic that is both functional and organic. Distinct audio/visual content emanates from within each scoop: whale vocalizations, morse code messages and their musical equivalents, pulses from the transmitter’s large vacuum tubes, field recordings, video of multi-vector ocean surface interference patterns made in the Pacific. The videos, projection mapped up from within, become clear when the viewer approaches and looks down into each sculpture.
CODE Humpback will debut June 7, 2014 in a dedicated space at The Bolinas Museum during the group show ‘Transmit / Receive.‘
Lindsay’s other new project “Ecotone” involves the design and construction of a listening station high atop an old growth tree in primary rain forest on the Osa peninsula in Costa Rica - and installations porting real time sound from that location.
Lindsay’s work has been featured on National Public Radio, CNN International, NHK Japan, WIRED.com and ARTonAIR.org. He has lectured at the American Museum of Natural History, Stanford’s Department of Art and Art History, 100 Year Starship Symposium, SwissNex, Mountain Film in Telluride, The School of Visual Arts, Pratt School of Art and Design, the Open Center in New York, IDEA CITY in Toronto and at The Hat Creek Observatory for SETI. Lindsay is an active musician and sound artist. He collaborates with SnazzyFx and participates on the Board of the Electronic Music Foundation.
“CARBON” was shown at ISEA 2012 in New Mexico, the Zero1 Biennial 2012 in San Francisco, at The Center for Photography at Woodstock, 2011, and at The Dennos Museum in Michigan in 2010. Lyle Rexer's seminal book "The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography" included “CARBON” as did the accompanying traveling exhibition organized by the Aperture Foundation.
Lindsay has published seven books of photographs, with Aperture and Little Brown. His work has appeared in numerous international publications including the New York Times Magazine, Blind Spot, Aperture, Natural History, Gastronomica, Audubon, Parabola, Orion, Big Sky Journal and GEO. He’s also published in dozens of Japan’s leading magazines.