Distress Signals: Text for a Short Film

By James Riley


I go there for the quiet and to see the rows of empty signs.

Photographers mix with visitors trying to capture its abstract structures.


Framed by viewfinders, geometric arrangements shift gently as the flat sea moves in. Above, a burnt grey sky turns black at the edges.

Crowds come here and there’s an atmosphere of aggressive protection, but it always seems to me an appropriate place for things to come to an end.


Gunshot girls lining up for the live human target. Freak in the alley. Shield up and microphone squall. Go home. No head shot.

The tower is the main gravitation point. Standing next to a circle of antennae, it looks like a radio outpost. Day and night the tower silently broadcasts. Directives forgotten, the pre-recorded cycle runs through its loop, transmitting until the fuel runs out.


It’s easy to imagine a scenario here, like projecting a film onto a white wall.

A man could climb to the tower’s peak and preach to the people below. They would say he was shouting about the rising seas and the end of the world.

Unreachable amid the wirework.


James Riley is currently working towards a PhD at the University of Cambridge.