Images by Chris Foster Photography and Ioana Vreme Moser

Despiciendo suspicio – Suspiciendo despicio.
By looking down, I see upward.
By looking up, I see downward.

— Tycho Brahe (1546–1601)

The Shift Register project has been commissioned by the Abandon Normal Devices Festival, out of Manchester, UK toward the creation of a further iteration of the project’s Earth Observatory Array Element series.

Earth Observatory Array Elements – Treak Cliff (EOAE-TC) is a core observatory structure in the show caves of Treak Cliff Cavern, measuring deep space particle and cosmic ray activity. It is part of a global set of observatories managed by the Shift Register concern. This Earth Observatory Array (EOA) has been operating for an undisclosed period, on a shoestring budget, within key sites of industrial, infrastructural and scientific interest. Of late, key researchers of the Treak Cliff observatory appear to have hurriedly abandoned this particular facility for reasons which remain obscure, although three apparently operative observatory structures remain within Treak Cliff cave. Their purpose can only be inferred from the weak audio signals which these devices continue to emit.

As earthly and cosmic signals filter, refract and descend through the limestone and fluorspar of Treak Cliff cavern, they register and reflect the peculiar geological conditions of the site. Countering the decay of all signals emitted since the big bang, EOAE-TC appears to be making a backup of the cosmos on obsolete media. The first device (EOAE-TC #1 Descent) seems to enter the rock itself, as if to extract stored telluric signals or radio waves from within the earth. These signals are archived on an already outdated floppy disk drive. The second instrument (EOAE-TC #2 Decay), a eccentric inverted pyramid, may have been used to monitor cosmic rays, perhaps observing changes in the hidden geological structures above the caverns themselves. It is unknown why the anonymous scientists who constructed this observatory chose to store these signals within a matrix of salvaged core memory. The final device (EOAE-TC #3 Depth) captures high energy particles from deep space, saving their arrivals to the slowly spinning disks of an ancient floppy drive. Some attempt appears to have been made to observe deep-time structures within these temporary signals; to resist the slow erosions of space and Earth.

Excerpts from lab and field notebooks found on site, admit of a strangely geo-philosophical and esoteric turn in the minds and practices of EOAE-TC operations personnel: “The earth is at once media, filter, a chaotic archive. It registers and processes terrestrial and cosmic signals as they descend and decay. In the moment of their capture by instrumentation, through their observation, the energies of the cosmos are consumed; they die out…”