Media Arts Program

Wednesday, May 15 at 8:00 p.m.

The Third Indeterminacy Festival & Hallwalls present

Monochords and little green men

This evening is dedicated to the exploration of waves. We will open the event with three compositions created for the Monochord Quartet. The monochord is an instrument based on a one-stringed instrument that was used throughout the Middle Ages as a tool to explore the relationship between mathematics and sound. Instrument design by Devin Zimmer with music direction by Stanzi Vaubel and monochord compositions by Matias Homar, Ben Zucker, and Tomek Arnold.

Following this performance, we will screen the award-winning documentary little green men, a film about high school students searching for pulsars, a certain type of collapsed star, using radio astronomy data from West Virginia's Green Bank Telescope through the Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC).

Why little green men? No, the film isn't about aliens, although Frank Drake did begin his search for extra-terrestrial life (SETI) at Green Bank. Little Green Men, or LGM-1, was the nickname first given to an unknown radio signal discovered in 1967, by Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, then a graduate student at Cambridge. Once it became clear that the signal was not an alien communication, but rather radio waves emitted by a collapsed star, the name "pulsar" was created to describe this newly discovered stellar object.

So far the students have discovered eight new pulsars, including two rotating radio transients (RRATs), which are unusual pulsars with very sporadic emission. The first discoverer - who was 15 at the time – was invited to the White House for an event with President and Mrs. Obama.

sarah jm kolberg is a PhD candidate in Visual Studies who specializes in the American and French post-WWII avant garde, with an additional focus on the post-WWI avant garde and queer theory, and—as a film scholar—narratology, psychoanalytic theory, and film noir. She has won numerous awards as a film producer & director, scholar, and writer, and her films have screened around the world. After more than a decade in state politics (as Chief of Staff to a State Assemblymember) she quit her job to return to graduate school full time. She holds a joint MA in English and Film, an MFA in Film Production, and an MA in Visual Studies and teaches both film and art history at the University at Buffalo. She is the Director and Producer of the award winning documentary little green men about a program which engages middle and high school students in the search for pulsars (a particular type of collapsed star),, for which she and her collaborator, Co-Producer Dr. Maura McLaughlin, raised more than $250,000 including funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA’s West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, West Virginia University, and the University at Buffalo. little green men has been screened at venues such as the Green Bank Telescope, the Carnegie Science Center (Pittsburgh), the Clay Center (Charleston, WV), Berkeley–SETI / Breakthrough Listen, The West Virginia STEM and the Arts film festival, as well as many others, along with the schools that have or are currently participating in the program. She also produced NanoGrav: the Wave of the Future, a short promotional film about the search for gravitational waves and how pulsars aid this objective. She owns Deer Creek Strategic Consulting and is a sought-after advisor to many of the area's arts and cultural organizations, having served on many of their boards.

A Q&A will follow the screening with Director and Producer sarah jm kolberg, Co-Producer Dr. Maura McLaughlin, and cinematographer Vincenzo Mistretta.

This event is a part of this year's third annual Indeterminacy Festival themed PastFuture/FuturePast, focusing on our past and future communication with the earth and beyond.