The Numbers Station
by Oliver Ayers
I am planning on making some form of “numbers station” for a performance art project (a collaboration with Bailey Davenport). Numbers stations are fascinating and little known to most people, though a popular topic for conspiracy theorists and people who are interested in espionage and cryptography. They occupy a fascinating sort of mystical space, blending science (radio waves! cryptography!) and magic (secret messages from thin air! the necessity of Secret Knowledge - like one time pads or special software - in order to decode those messages!) in a way that I find particularly compelling and exciting.
Our numbers station is a pretty humble proposal to start with. The numbers themselves don’t matter - we’re not transmitting any actual encoded messages. Perhaps we will do so at some point! But I want to create a station that broadcasts to regular AM/FM radios (over short distances), using a random number generator and a text to speech program to generate the audio files.
I have divided this process into a few steps:
- generate a list of random numbers (integers between 1 and 1000 preferred, perhaps even a smaller range)
- convert the list of numbers to an audio file by recording a text to speech program (there may be a more direct way of doing this, but this is what came to mind)
- get or build equipment that will broadcast files from my laptop and then broadcast the numbers station
- pick up the station using my radio at home!
It seems pretty straightforward.