“- Shortwave numbers stations are a social experiment being conducted by the aliens.
- Actually they are mostly tenticle-enlargement spam, but we don't have the proper char-set support yet. Hopefully this will be included in Vista.(1)”
Lincolnshire Poacher combines a number of my fascinations: Google maps, text, sound, nature, camouflage, humor(2), and enigma. Its subject is the most famous of the cold war era Number Stations(3): the similarly named Lincolnshire Poacher. The Lincolnshire Poacher broadcast for over 30 years always using the same format: the (sampled) voice of an English woman reading out sets of 5 digit numbers, prefaced by 10 repetitions of one set of 5 numbers and bookended by several bars of the English folk song “The Lincolnshire Poacher”. I am intrigued by Number Stations for a variety of reasons, particularly their reductivist use of text to pass secrets by the most public of methods.
The piece’s main element is a vector drawing based on the Google maps aerial photograph of Akrotiri, Cyprus: the presumed location of the Lincolnshire Poacher. An orange dot on the drawing marks the likely location of the station's transmitter believed to have been operated by the British Secret Intelligence Service. A series of additional orange dots within the exhibit lead to the location of a sound piece: a recreation of an actual broadcast by the Lincolnshire Poacher station made in October 2004.
I have been fascinated, if not obsessed, with Google maps for almost two years. The resulting undertakings are a reflection of my examinations of mimetic process, a sense of unrequited wanderlust, and a latent fondness for the cold war's quaintly stylized tropes of aggression: poisoned umbrellas tips, modems in the stratosphere(4), and Number Stations. A reflection of my own peripatetic history (I am a multinational and have travelled widely) Lincolnshire Poacher is simultaneously symptomatic of my rooted present. I am now an armchair traveler who indulges my yearnings through virtual wandering in forbidden spaces.
1 - Comments about an August 2006 article on Slashdot about VoIP Number Stations: http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/08/05/216229
2 - I was pleased to discover during the course of my research that there is a type of artisanal cheese named Lincolnshire Poacher.
3 - for additional information about number stations see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numbers_station
4 - sputnik