Kovács/O’Doherty

Twin Moons

Spectrogram image of an excerpt from the signal of the LES-1 satellite, showing the gaps in transmission approximately every four seconds.

Spectrogram image of an excerpt from the signal of the LES-1 satellite, showing the gaps in transmission approximately every four seconds.

Twin Moons - Antenna Diagram (from Rothammel’s Antennenbuch, 1963)

Twin Moons - Antenna Diagram (from Rothammel’s Antennenbuch, 1963)

Twin Moons is a work-in-progress, which aims to create a response to the erratic signals of the LES-1, a defunct satellite. The work is supported by the Art + Technology Lab at LACMA, as one of the recipient projects of the Art + Technology Awards 2016.

The LES-1 satellite was launched in 1965, and ceased to function in 1967, but unexpectedly started transmitting again, 46 years later, in 2013. The satellite is now slowly tumbling in orbit, rotating on its own axis approximately every four seconds – visible and audible as a clear dip or gap in signals received from the satellite.

Twin Moons will attempt to provide an ‘answering signal’ to fill the gap caused by the tumbling of LES-1, responding to the implicit silences of the satellite’s signal with a matching signal, thus combining the two into a unified whole.

The process of receiving and responding to these erratic signals is the subject of ongoing research, including a process of hand-building antennae to receive signals from the satellite. The schematics for one of these antennae is shown as one of the images in the slideshow above, and a blog with further details is now online.

Audio and video excerpts from the signal of the LES-1 satellite are embedded below, derived from I/Q data recorded in September 2016, in Berlin, Germany, and Lunow-Stolzenhagen, Germany. The final work is intended to be installed as a speaker array, as well as a series of APIs of received information.

See also:

Audio:

Video:

Excerpt from the signal of the LES-1 satellite, derived from I/Q data recorded in September 2016, in Lunow-Stolzenhagen, Germany. Screen recording shows waterfall spectrogram of I/Q data played back via Gqrx SDR.