LED messages to your past

Sending a message to a past self is a common trait of time-travel narratives, but also classical storytelling. Last session we explored the (fantastical) idea of being able to communicate to your past self, but also what constraints a time-travel message portal might impose. Many technical innovations come with inherent restrictions – eg Twitter limits users 140 characters per tweet – which force us to distill our ideas into more direct language.

We asked the residents of Laira Court and Saddle Court to send a message using only 20 characters! The message had to be to themselves at an earlier point in their lives, imparting some wisdom, advice, encouragement or regards from a future perspective.

We used an LED simulation app (there are a few available) on the iPad to create the message. There is something striking about creating scrolling text, allowing the signage to speak for you, broadcasting over distance. The final portraits below are also not-unlike Bob Dylan’s iconic video for Subterranean Homesick Blues!


Carole’s message was very direct, and perhaps not uncommon – “Don’t Marry Him” – 1970 – but it also raised interesting ideas about who we will take advice from:

“if I could have talked to myself as I am now, then I wouldn’t have done it. ”

“Do you think you would have listened to yourself?”

“I think so, but I wouldn’t have listened to my mum”


Maurice had a cryptic message – “I know of Two Bright Eyes“:

It’s the title of a song, and in that song, that’s where me wife got her name – her name’s ‘Myrra’

“I know of two bright eyes watching for me

I know two red lips praying for me

I know cheeks that burn, that greet me when I return

Myrra, I soon will come to thee”

She died two years ago. She lives in my heart.

It’s interesting that the message sent by Maurice is like a code that only he would understand.


Dave  –  “Go to Aus” 

“I had a job to go to, a house to live in, and a chance of a good life. My friend went, I didn’t go with him. My mother was terminally ill, so that was the reason I didn’t go. Four week after he went, she died. I was so full of remorse, I couldn’t be bothered going… I think I missed out on a life somewhere. He’s still there yet… I knew if I’d have gone, I would have never seen my mother again. I think I made the right decision.  But life changes, you get involved in other things. As the weeks and months went by, it just went further away from me.”

Dave’s decision was one of the biggest he ever had to make in his life. Whilst he felt he had made the right decision, there was still some regret that he hadn’t made his way to Australia after his mother had passed.

LED_maureen_300 LED_Terry LED_mary_300 LED_john__T_300 LED_john_300 LED_betty_300


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