Fireflies Reference

Fireflies / The Fax machine first caught my attention in 1969 with its ability to render a photographic image in high definition (for the time) and suitable for transmission by telephone to any remote location with a comparable machine. In essence, it transformed the image into sound by assigning a different audio tone to the various grey values of the photograph. More importantly, it transformed the image into a mediated electronic state where it was compatible with other electronically encoded information. From our current and informed vantage point it is reminiscent of our modern computing devices with their processes of scanning, encoding, sending and printing. The images here were generated sequentially, with sound, music, text, voice and photographic elements transmitted to a single page (8.5 x 11”) fragment by fragment. Process and apparatus are no strangers to photography and a system like the Graphic Sciences DEX 1 Teleprinter drew the photograph into a state of electronic compatibility with a range of sound and graphic elements, each with its own characteristics and distinct footprint visible on the final print. The images mirror the spatial incongruities of Moholy-Nagy’s Photo-plastiques and are meant to suggest the arbitrary intersection of electronic sources colliding at a particular instant in time…any time. One might think of it as tuning through electronic “static” to extract bits and pieces of coherent signal that make up the picture. In using state-of-the-art FAX technology in 1969, these one-of-a-kind images represent the first ever electronically montaged pictures, foreshadowing the computer technology that would follow some 40 years later.