Patrolling The Ether

Carl Diehl - 2009, 7:00, miniDV, Portland, OR

The end of analog broadcasts will be a boon for electronic anomalists. In this transmission, eclectic electronic pursuits including EVP, EIP and Martian radio are bandied about by a disembodied voice emanating from beyond. Paranormal penchants aside, interviews and examples from Portland’s Pulse Emitter reveal the always already strange goings-on amongst electrons. There are advantages to obsolescence and the end of analog television suggests new opportunities for experimental researchers everywhere.

The curious gestures of malfunction, mechanics of obsolescence and on-going accounts of anomalous phenomena are recombined and re-imagined in a series of projects that Carl Diehl terms “metaphortean.” These works, which range from installation to video essays, performance to book works explore the possibility spaces between Fortean phenomena and vernacular technoculture. Diehl resides in Portland, Oregon where he teaches at Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Northwest Film Center.

Questions with Carl Diehl by Liz Wing

Liz Wing: The interview with Pulse Emitter seems like a contemporary version of a spirit medium. Now that analog has been deregulated, how much more terrain do these guys have to work with?

Carl Diehl: Well, Pulse Emitter doesn't believe in spirit communication, but he could be described as being "tuned in" to the "spirit" or zeitgeist of DIY cultural production. There is a certain affinity with post-digital aesthetics and a general embrace of all things analog. But, as far as the spiritualist continuum---there are plenty of EIP (Electronic Image Phenomena) and EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) aficionados who have long been using modern electronics as spiritualistic mediums. Whatever the motivation, there's no more interference from broadcast television so any anomalous phenomena should be easier to access by artists and ghost hunters alike!

LW: What is "damned data", and is it related to media obsolescence?

CD: "Damned Data" is a term that the early 20th century anomalist Charles Fort used when describing various phenomena and information that established Science had excluded, rejected or ignored because it was unexplainable. In his 1919 tome "Book of the Damned" he proclaims there will be a "procession of the damned," and then goes about parading a variety of anomalous reports that fly in the face of official findings.

I use Fort's theories in association with obsolete, or residual media which, despite being largely trashed, rejected or ignored by way of new media marketing imperatives, holds a great deal of potential and mystery to be investigated. Circuit-bending is a good example, but generally the abundance of residual technologies circulating through second-hand markets suggests missing links rather than fossil traces. My current practice is titled "Metaphortean" in reference to my use of metaphors/associations from Fortean phenomena to explore adaptive re-use of old media/tech.

LW: What kinds of things is one looking for when "Patrolling The Ether"?

CD: Again, it depends on who you ask. The signals in noise may be understood as postcards from other worlds, or as fascinating sound-forms with which to further weird out your music. In any case, there is some sort of possibility space glimpsed that provokes further exploration. It's more about why one is looking than what they're looking for that interests me. Certainly the recent excess of unwanted analog recievers and transmitters (via VCRs or otherwise) in the aftermath of the DTV transition will encourage a variety of new inquiries.


Artists' Television Access is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, all-volunteer, artist-run, experimental media arts gallery that has been in operation since 1984. ATA hosts a series of film and video screenings, exhibitions and performances by emerging and established artists and a weekly cable access television program.