Oct 27, 2016, 08:00AM

Invisible Touch

52 Weeks of Elizabeth Veldon, Week 43: “data transmissions from the limits of the sun” (7/14/15).

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Older readers will recall a time when instantaneous connection to the Internet wasn’t a guarantee. “Dial up,” as it was commonly known, meant that your attempt to get online was a lot like trying to call a pal you couldn’t be sure was even at home. This exercise was represented by sounds suggesting an extremely truncated remix of an Emergency Broadcast System test. Infinite data: so close you could almost taste it, and yet—potentially—so distant. some songs for pluto pays tribute to the loneliest, most far-flung of planets in our solar system, a cold sphere beyond the reach of warmth, a world only comets and space probes will ever graze. Given the context, a song title like “data transmissions from the limits of the sun” reminds us of the incomprehensible gulf between our nearest star and furthest neighbor. Meanwhile, this broiling drone seems to convulse in a very small space, imitative or symbolic of solar energy forms capable of bridging that void as measured by scientific instruments: radio waves, electromagnetic radiation, infrared light. These forces were grinding long before any of us were aware of what they were and will be grinding long after we’re dust; nothing we could say or feel is stronger or more lasting. Eternity, “data transmissions” seems to insist, is like a gnarly dial-up session no sentient creature could ever hope to wait through, as if we’d even want to.


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