Transmissions from Locations Unknown

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Mat (Clodagh Emoe, 2008-ongoing) via

On a recent episode of Fringe, a mad scientist arch-villain primes two parallel worlds for destruction by re-tuning the frequency of each planet to resonate at the same pitch. A semi-literal bridge that connects the worlds makes this simultaneous ruination possible. The uniting functionality is familiar: an open line enables communication, and much like the telephone and its network offspring, a bridge makes connection possible. That open line has served as a hopeful means of connection to magic, the fuzzily understood, and the otherworldy.  

Remote became routinely possible with the telephone. Electronically transmitted speech enabled nearly immediate, if once-removed, conversation. The device, as described by philosopher Avital Ronell, both amplified a voice across distance and marked the physical absence of the other. A call's origin, the voice on the other side, could be logically anywhere, or from beyond. One story goes: Alexander Graham Bell, influenced by Thomas Watson's interest in phatasmic communication and seeking a means to communicate with his much-loved departed brother, ended up inventing the telephone.

Could transmission and recording instruments reveal the unknown? Ethereal forces were felt and unseen — what was imperceptible to the naked eye might be seen by a technologically augmented one:

The Medium Eva C. with a Materialization on Her Head and a Luminous Apparition Between Her Hands (Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, 1912) via

The mind-consciousness interface is direct and hopefully unburdened by interpretative infrastructure. Fringe's FBI agent heroine possesses slight telepathic and telekinetic abilities that lubricate her passage between worlds. She requires no intervening interface; her mind is the bridge, her thoughts go unmediated from input to considered output. (For more on brain interfaces and interaction, go here for the Near Future Laboratories SXSW talk; slideshow here).

Direct communication from mind to the external results in actions that range from the mundane ("Push the red button") to the mystical (spells), though the very lack of an intermediary or medium give these interactions a supernatural flavor. For now, brain control for the everyday still needs a sensor headdress, an electroencephalogram reader, and data extrapolation. (To read brains using a store-bought EEG, go here for Eric Mika's DIY hack). 

In contrast, energy healing, occurring by mysterious transmission, requires no hardware, can be given in the absence of physical touch, and practiced remotely. I'll leave you with an example: