“I am the twentieth century. I am the ragtime and the tango; sans-serif, clean geometry. I am the virgin’s-hair whip and the cunningly detailed shackles of decadent passion. I am every lonely railway station in every capital of Europe. I am the Street, the fanciless buildings of government. the cafe-dansant, the clockwork figure, the jazz saxophone, the tourist-lady’s hairpiece, the fairy’s rubber breasts, the travelling clock which always tells the wrong time and chimes in different keys. I am the dead palm tree, the Negro’s dancing pumps, the dried fountain after tourist season. I am all the appurtenances of night.”
― Thomas Pynchon, V.
I was waiting with my bicycle at the Galatyn Park DART train station for some friends to arrive when I noticed patterns, codes obviously, cut into the steel of the railing by the station artist, Jim Cinquemani.
The first one was easy. That’s Morse Code. I don’t know it by heart, but I know how it works. It spells out the name of the place, Galatyn Park.
So I confidently dove in to the puzzle of the second missive. It’s obviously some sort of Teletype Code. Since I already knew what it probably said, I thought it would be easy. A seven bit code (ASCII is usually seven bits) – but what is that one bit that is always on? And the message is twenty-six characters long… There are so many different codes, with strange encoding patterns and a lot of mysterious control codes.
I’m old enough to have worked with paper tape – back when kilobytes of information were all we had to work with. This looks like computer paper tape – but it might be an even older technology.
I never was able to figure it out. I’ll work on it awhile – and then maybe email the sculptor and see if he will tell me.
Finally, the last two codes:
These are obviously analog output. Maybe voice recordings? No way to decode – but they do look cool.
“It’s been a prevalent notion. Fallen sparks. Fragments of vessels broken at the Creation. And someday, somehow, before the end, a gathering back to home. A messenger from the Kingdom, arriving at the last moment. But I tell you there is no such message, no such home — only the millions of last moments . . . nothing more. Our history is an aggregate of last moments.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow