Spectres of the Spectrum is a feature-length
16mm film utilizing old 'kinescopes' (filmed records of early TV broadcasts
before the advent of videotape, mostly from the late Fifties' educational
show called 'Science in Action') to create an eerie, haunted "media-archaeology"
zone for a sci-fi time-travel tale, wherein live-action actors search
for a hidden electromagnetic secret to save the planet from a futuristic
war-machine, inspired by HAARP the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research
Program. (Though fictionalized for Baldwin's film, HAARP is, in fact,
a very real phenomenon. On the surface, it is a data-gathering tool to
explore the Aurora Borealis in detail. But in fact, HAARP doubles as one
of the most sophisticated components of the Star Wars weapons arsenal,
a particle beam device that can be accurately targeted on specific sites
in the ionosphere.
Set in the year 2007 in the blighted desert outpost of Las Vegas, a young telepathic woman ("BooBoo") scavenges for survival on an old bombing range with her father ("Yogi") who is holed up in a cinder-block pirate-TV station, broadcasting rambling diatribes on the impending global electromagnetic 'Pulse'. A solar eclipse gives BooBoo a cosmic opportunity to save the world, through a superluminal voyage back into time to retrieve a secret message left on the airwaves by her scientist grandmother.
With their Airstream trailer converted into a spaceship, the amazed BooBoo is able to catch up with outwardly propagating Fifties' educational-TV broadcasts, affording an accelerated review of mid-century science and science-fiction cinema; and narrating a loose and collage-happy history of heroes and martyrs of the electromagnetic revolution. Commentary on Mesmer, Morse, Bell, Tesla, Farnsworth, and others comes from Yogi and his 'TV Tesla' correspondents, in a playfully speculative effort to trace the growth of corporate hegemony over the electromagnetic spectrum. Through an increasingly abstract montage of live-action, archival film, broadcast video, and 'exploded' interviews, the fantasy narrative warps into disjointed, abstracted, audio-visual phrases, suggesting the breakdown of personal ego/memory, historical representation, and, yes, of spacetime itself.
This science-fiction allegory about 'electromagnetic autonomy' in opposition to the hegemony of the culture-management industry, tracing a history of media technology from its early days to a 21st century "New Electromagnetic Order" that threatens to take total control of our lives.