Individual Work
The Silent Numbers

The Silent Numbers is a hypertext piece by Matthew Kirkpatrick that blends both fiction and non-fiction elements to create a storyline based around the concept of number stations and their transmissions. Including both Kirkpatrick’s own pieces of fiction and real messages from an anonymous number stations email group, Kirkpatrick builds the story of an unknown individual who listens to these number stations and their transmissions. This individual grows increasingly obsessed with listening to and recording transmissions, before shifting towards a state of paranoia as the origin of these transmissions seem to be a lot closer to home. The plot and story structure of this hypertext piece is very abstract, with little to no indication about who’s speaking or their identity. First person pov is often used in the texts to discuss transmissions, but there’s little to no identification about who that “I” actually is. Further pushing this theme of anonymity and the unknown that The Silent Numbers revolves around. The program starts running automatically when opened, with the audio component that accompanies this piece having to be started manually. White text fades in on a black background, with all html links highlighted in blue and underlined. The text varies in where it appears on the screen, and usually only stays visible for a max of four seconds before fading out. Texts that include html links are the only exception to this, as they will stay visible on the page until the viewer clicks on the links. The audio component of this piece is an audio collage which Kirkpatrick created using real transmissions from number stations. Within the audio listeners can pick out human voices reading numbers, static, jingles, folk songs, whistle noises, beeping, and other varying sounds that are often overlaid on each other. The audio is also at times distorted and unrecognizable, along with technical lingo relating to transmissions and even seemingly random numbers appearing on screen that often reads like gibberish; especially to viewers who aren't familiar with number stations.