The Noosphere

Satellite Farm

Perhaps because satellite dishes look like ears turned skyward, I sometimes imagine lines of light, like ruby laser beams, streaming out of them toward their satellites. If those beams could somehow become visible at night, globally and simultaneously, the resulting web of crisscrossing lines would be dazzling.

Building on this reflection, I include the lines that radiate to and from worldwide microwave, radio, telephone and television towers, the Internet and international satellites. Now it takes the form of an atmosphere, a glowing and dynamic field of consciousness, what Teilhard de Chardin referred to as the “noosphere,” the sphere of mind.

What I’ve been talking about so far is just the structure of this evolving and complexifying field. Of equal and inseparable significance is the “stuff” that gives rise to and sustains it. Content. What are we communicating? What are we saying—to and about each other? How are we talking about and depicting human nature itself? Are our conversations contributing to life? What’s on our minds? What do we value? What are we teaching the next generation? Is the increasing capacity to communicate better, faster and farther making life easier or more enriching for many more people? Ideally, what should we be talking about?

Gregory Bateson defined information as “A difference that makes a difference.” Whatever the medium, are our connections—personally and socially—making a positive difference? Are they facilitating and empowering individuals to identify and realize more of their potentials? Relate better? Solve difficult challenges? Repair breakdowns? Are they positively affecting the health and well-being and reproductive success of the species? Such questions arguable point the direction of communication’s evolution—which runs parallel with the evolution of consciousness—but already I stand in appreciation of how far we have come, both in the areas of technology and content.

Standing back far enough to let the content blur for a moment, and fast forwarding, factoring in the rate of communication technology change, I observe a dynamic and unified global communication system already performing functions identical to those of a nervous system—sensing, interpreting and activating the body (humanity) to respond to change appropriately, that is, toward the health and well-being of all its members. From the science of living systems we learned that when the individual members of a system are functioning well, the whole performs optimally.

Although it has been many years since I worked in broadcast television, production technologies and media facilities such as television and radio stations, satellite trucks, broadcast towers and satellite farms still, invariably, get my heart pounding. In them I see the enormous, barely tapped opportunity they have to lift the spirit, empower, inspire and facilitate the realization of human potential—its more mature potentials. I offer THIS LINK which contains exceptional television commercials as an example.

The thrust to connect, that capacity to integrate with and through each other, is our true nature. 

                              Joanna Macy

About This Image

Satellite Farm

Theme: The Noosphere

File #: DC5275

Chadron, Nebraska

June 17, 2012

Readings on the topics of dark matter, dark energy and zero point gravity prompted my desire to photographically represent or evoke an awareness of the many forces and energies that we can’t see with our eyes. When I read that “Space is not nothing,” that it’s a “Seething maelstrom of subatomic particles,” and that the composition of the universe is 73% dark energy, 23% dark matter and only 4% atoms, which combine to make hard matter, I wanted somehow to represent this with my camera.

The challenge was how to photograph the invisible. I was stalled, thinking about this for months. And then, typically, a conversation with Linda revealed a way to proceed. She proposed that, rather than showing the lines of force (which I was thinking I might physically draw on photographs), I could suggest them by their relationship to the land and other Earth objects. She noted that some of my images already did this. (For instance, Solitude, the image featured in the third posting of this blog).

The very next day I was out with my camera shooting tests. Since only 4% of the universe is constituted of matter, I decided to include approximately only that much subject matter in the frame. The rest would be either blank, a continuous field of color or texture or the sky. It worked. For me at least. So I went to the computer and searched for a destination where I could find immensities of land and sky or water and sky. On Google Earth I found what I was looking for. (The little “man” icon that can be dragged to any street to see what’s there is particularly helpful). The Northern Plains of South Dakota and Nebraska had oceans of wheat fields, fascinating peaks in the Badlands and dramatic skies. Using Map Quest I found lodging facilities that I could reach within a day and still be close to the areas where I wanted to photograph the next morning.

I chose to visit this area at a time when the wheat was knee-high and turning golden. I photographed for a week, early morning until and sometimes after dark. I was in the flow, ecstatic every day. I hadn’t realized that there would be so little traffic. Frequently, I set up my tripod in the middle of a highway and shot with a 4×5 view camera without a single vehicle passing by. I could drive thirty or forty miles down county roads and not see another human being. In many places there were neither fences nor phone poles. And I’d never seen so much wildlife.

This photograph was made at the end of a day, behind the motel where I was staying. It’s an example of an image that evokes a sense of invisible forces, in this case, television and microwaves.



© Copyright, David L. Smith, 2014. The images and the associated contemplations on this site are protected against any and all commercial and promotional use without the permission of  the author. However, permission is granted for individuals to download the images and print them for private, non-commercial, non-promotional use.

One thought on “The Noosphere

  1. Gorgeous photograph. I appreciate the commentary as well. I can envision the red laser beams creating an atmosphere above the Earth’s surface – an intersecting grid. You mention the content of the communications. The word image you create is compelling because it is nonjudgemental. Whether the communications are about dark matter or cereal, the red laser beams remain constant. Nice post!



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