Visit to the Observatory

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6. Visit to the Observatory


This fragment harkens back to a pop group that was huge at the time of Voyager’s launch: ABBA. We hear an opening piano phrase from Bach joined by the Swedish computer programmer Gunnel Almgren Schaar who intones, in Swedish: “Greetings from a computer programmer in the little university town of Ithaca…” The extraterrestrials loop some unaddressed percussion from Senegal alongside Glenn Gould’s piano, which they have sliced up in ways that would have made this famous studio perfectionist recoil. Finally, continuing to demonstrate what would seem to be their uncanny ability to recognize languages, the extraterrestrials have inserted a recitation by the UN representative of Sweden of a poem entitled “Visit to the Observatory,” by Harry Martinson.