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June 14th, 2014

Great Minds Talk: Artist Charles Lindsay in Conversation with Astronomer Laurance Doyle, moderated by Eric McDougall

Bolinas Community Center / 4 PM

Code Humpback-CL-Portrait@RCA-Bolinas. Courtesy of Charles LindsayBolinas Community Center / 4 PM / $5 suggested donation

No reservation required


Join SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Artist in Residence Charles Lindsay and SETI astronomer and information theory expert Laurance Doyle for a thought-provoking discussion about the possibilities of interspecies communications, recent advancements in the field related to humpback whale song, and the philosophical debate regarding the existence of sentient beings beyond planet earth. Both Charles and Laurance are based at Palo Alto's SETI Institute, which, until recently, was directed by Jill Tarter, TED Prize recipient whose wish is to "empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company."


Enjoy a small taste of what's to come here at this Epicenter KWMR radio interview with Lyons Fillmer. KWMR (90.5 FM in Point Reyes and 89.9 FM in Bolinas) is one of the many West Marin organizations participating in the celebration of the Centennial of the Marconi & RCA Wireless Radio Stations in West Marin. Click here for more information.

Guggenheim recipient Charles Lindsay is the first Artist in Residence at SETI Institute whose mission is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe. To honor the great history of wireless communications in West Marin, Bolinas Museum commissioned Lindsay to create a unique work inspired by Morse code transmissions between the historic Bolinas and Point Reyes stations. Lindsay was in the initial stages of developing the commission when his advisor, SETI researcher and astronomer Laurance Doyle's findings related to humpback whale song became public. Along with colleagues at U.C. Davis and the Alaska Whale Foundation, Doyle has applied the mathematics of information theory to determine that humpback whale vocalizations have rule structure complexity, what in human language is called 'syntax.' Inspired by this discovery, Lindsay combined his the Marconi/RCA Station work with these new insights to create Code Humpback, a sound, video and sculpture installation now on view at the Bolinas Museum.
Doyle's discoveries imply humpback whales have a formal learned language, which leads to a great many questions. Lindsay asks, 'Imagine an ancient non-primate language, global in scale, underwater, alive-one that we don't speak. This is fantastically compelling. What else are we missing? How can we communicate with aliens if we can't converse with the beings that share not only our planet, but also our biochemistry and genetic ancestry? What other unseen information surrounds us?' These are just a few of the questions will drive the evening's discussion.   


PHOTO: Artist Charles Lindsay at RCA, Bolinas. Photo courtesy of  Charles Lindsay