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title. Lafayette by Morse

date. 2024

digital animation / installation


Samuel Morse was originally a painter. In 1825 while painting this portrait of American revolutionary Lafayette he received a letter notifying him that his wife was gravely ill and shortly after that she had died. The slowness of communication and travel meant that he had no hope of returning home to her before she died or even before she had been buried. This in part inspired him to find a more direct form of communication and led to his development of the single line telegraph and the code that bears his name. From this origin point comes all the electronic communication and transmission that consumes life in this century, the billions of ribbons of data that constantly fly through our air and above our skies every minute.

The message pulsing through the artwork are the words of the letter he received while painting Lafayette. The tragic news of his wife, translated into his own code and draped across the sky.

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