Touch from a Distance

Touch from a Distance

There's a likely apocryphal story about Guglielmo Marconi that I've never wanted to ruin with research.

I'm still going to tell it to you.

As the legend goes, the father of radio was struck with an epiphany while watching grains of pollen dance inside a puddle outside. People walking along the path would, unsurprisingly, stir the grains of pollen into motion with the vibrations from their feet. Marconi realized that, as all sounds are physical vibrations, and all vibrations have to propagate through something physical, all sounds in the history of the universe have been, in some way, “recorded” into our material world. Every piece of audio has a visual counterpart. We just don't tend to know where to look to find them.

Insect Costumes and Stolen Sounds

Insect Costumes and Stolen Sounds

My plane arrived in San José alongside a storm. 

It’s rainy season in Costa Rica which means “a lull in tourism,” according to the driver taking me into the city. He swerves out of the way of a bunch of teenagers and remarks how calm the city is this month. I should note that San José, despite being the capital, essentially only receives ephemeral travelers on their way to the more traditionally scenic parts of the country. This doesn’t mean it’s not fascinating. 

The Art of Noises, Revisited

The Art of Noises, Revisited

Luigi Russolo was that guy at the party.

A painter by trade, Russolo made a second name for himself by being both the life and death of the soirée. He’d often break into vile poetry, destroy textbooks, and even worse—burn the Italian flag before stomping out. While crass and offensive, his outbursts were apparently the most fun one could have in a politically-torn Italy and met with a torrent of follow-up invitations the following morning. Russolo would spend roughly half of the 1910s painting and the other half thoroughly offending Milan’s aristocracy.