Numbers in the Dark II
A few images from a small project I’ve been working on about numbers stations. These stations are shortwave radio broadcasts that transmit streams of numbers and other unintelligible information. They are generally believed to be operated by the intelligence services of various countries who use them to transmit instructions to agents in the field. These stations emerged during the First World War, continued to be used through the second, but really came into their own during the cold war when international espionage was at its height. At the same time amateur radio enthusiasts began to seriously monitor the stations, recording their output, attempting to locate their broadcasting positions using direction finding equipment and even attempting to break the codes they use. For some stations the transmitter used has been identified, for others only the general geographic area is known.
A few people have asked about the name of the project. It comes from a short story by Italo Calvino about a small boy who finds an accountant working late in the night in the large office building his mother cleans. The accountant shows the boy an ancient ledger from early in the company’s history, in which a single mistake was once made. Everything since he explains has been built on this mistake. The entire world has been irrevocably distorted by this single tiny act.