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Morse Candle

14 February 2021 - 17 May 2021

Trinity Buoy Wharf and online


Learn how to decode the message

Morse Candle reintroduces light to the lantern room of London’s only lighthouse with a signal for Londoners during the pandemic

Within the simple, elemental flickering light of a candle, a single word will shine in Morse Code. With the help of the public, this word will be communicated in as many of the languages used in London as possible.

Morse Candle can be accessed by local walkers according to pandemic restrictions from dusk to dawn each day.

Members of the public are invited to decode the message signalled in Morse Code: a simple “how-to” guide is available to visitors on location and online

Currently closed due to the pandemic, the lighthouse is home to Longplayer, a 1000 year long musical composition. Written by Jem Finer, it was originally commissioned by Artangel and is now in the care of the Longplayer Trust.

During this period of inaccessibility, the Longplayer Trust, with support from Trinity Buoy Wharf, present Morse Candle, a gentle, fragile, flickering presence, rekindling a light in the lamp of the lighthouse.

Within the light's fluctuations a single, elemental word is transmitted in Morse Code in many languages. With the assistance of the public, we hope to include as many of the languages used in London today as possible, the precise number of which is ever-evolving but currently estimated to be in the region of 250 – 275. Morse Candle has limitations in expressing all of these languages, some of which are not written or have no agreed-upon written form. The Longplayer Trust nevertheless welcomes contributions and suggestions from the public for any language.

Members of the public are encouraged to contribute further languages to the signal online and by social media using #MorseCandle. These will be added during the run.

Developed in the mid-1800s, Morse Code was used to communicate public messages over great distances. In response to current events, Morse Candle crosses barriers of social distance with a simple sign of life. The installation will be located in the only lighthouse in London, used in the early to mid-twentieth century to train lighthouse keepers for postings around the UK, and who used Morse Code to communicate with ships.

The sequence of words is transmitted in a continuous loop, allowing visitors to decode it with a helpful guide displayed on location and online. Locals are invited to experience the installation at Trinity Buoy Wharf and close to the site between February 14th and March 27th, dusk till dawn, as part of their daily exercise. Please note the gates to Trinity Buoy Wharf shut at 7pm daily.

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