Have you heard of SETI? SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and no, it’s not some esoteric self-finding trip I signed up to. It is a scientific project actually, run by volunteers at the University of California in Berkeley. It was funded for some time by NASA. Basically it analyses radio-waves from deep space, looking for pattern that would betray some form of intelligence. A huge volume of data, captured by radio telescopes, needs to be analysed, and the project relies on decentralized computing. All over the world, me and other volunteers like me download data sets. They are being analysed by my Mac’s computing power in the background while I write this post for instance.
Being part of a project that looks beyond the limits of earth partly satisfies my need for a transcendental experience. No kidding. It’s actually fun and useful at the same time if you believe in it. It’s also a way of sharing. I share computing capacity. My Mac is old and battered, but writing this post doesn’t require much computing. Why not share? I’ll share with you something else today, it has to do with transcendental experience too. A piece of music as you would expect: Rebecca Saunders piece “miniata”.
Saunders is a British composer, born in 1967, living currently in Berlin. “miniata” has been scored for accordion, piano, choir and orchestra. A very meditative piece that fits the search for intelligence in outer space. Looking for pattern, making sense of it, seeing a kind of harmony that transcends our daily life. Saunders puts the music in context with a quotation from a work of Samuel Beckett: “By the voice a faint light is shed. Dark lightens while it sounds. Deepens when it ebbs. Lightens with flow back to faint full. Is whole again when it ceases.”
“miniata” has been recorded by the SWR Chorus and Symphony Orchestra.
© Charles Thibo