Mo' Better Mo-Tapemosphere

[ 2. Restmuell ] [ 1. "chase away all my fear" ]

january 06, 2008.

not found tape Most of you will probably have guessed that the picture to the right is one of the many thrown-away audio tape pics that I took last year of cast away cassette tapes found on the street, as part of the documentation for my Found Tapes Exhibition. Right ...?
[Click for a b i g g e r picture and context.] ...
Wrong! It was not me who took that picture, which I found in my mailbox last september when I was in Brooklyn, NY, collecting audio tape debris during the Conflux 2007 festival. It was sent to me by Wolfgang Dorninger, whom I had met on the evening of september 7th 2007 in The Hague, when we were playing there with Diktat, on the occasion of the Ground Two Festival.

Wolfgang shot the picture the day after, on september 8th 2007, while changing trains at the Cologne train station in Germany. As you see, it actually is - or was - part of the design of the garbage cans on the platforms of Deutsche Bahn train stations; at the very least of the one in Cologne ... Curious to see this image of a broken cassette as one among the typical objects [icons, 'protoypes'] that a passenger waiting for a train on a german platform is thought likely to dispose of ... Curious also of course because Wolfgang took this picture at a moment in time when there hardly is any one still boarding a train with a running cassette walkman as his or her personal stereo companion. Or is it an old picture, one that has been decorating Deutsche Bahn garbage cans for many years already? I have not been on german trains enough to be able to answer that question, but maybe some of you can?

It is a funny coincidence that Cologne has been among the longish list of places where I went last year and intentionally looked for tape debris left in the street. That was eight months ago, when I went there to meet the Tapemosphere Boyz.

For two full days I went around Cologne haphazardly, on the bicycle that I got from Béla, and eventually I collected seven tapes, which together became the Found in Cologne acquisition of the exhibition. The finds are indicated, numbered in their order of finding, on the Google satellite picture of Cologne below ...

founds in Cologne

It of course is a pretty safe bet that cassette tape debris in western cities due to the massive replacement of the analog cassette medium and player by digital equivalents (mainly mp3-format and -player), will eventually become a thing of the past. And I do see more and more support for this hypothesis, as I indeed see less and less cast away tape around. I actually did not pick up any at all between half october and half december ... Which I dare say is a significant observation. Over the years I have become so focused on the spotting of tape in the street, that it will be almost unthinkable that there might be a bit lying around in a street through which I pass without me noticing it. And when walking around with others, it never once happened that someone else spotted a tape before I did, even in case all were actually consciously looking for them - like during the couple of short 'tape-walks' that I did during the Conflux festival in Brooklyn.

#442During my first of two days of cycling around Cologne looking for tape, it actually took me many hours before I finally came upon a first bit ... That was at 18h00, in the Kalker Hauptstrasse, on the pavement in front of an agency of the Citibank, trapped by and wound around the leaves of a dandelion; just like the second one that I picked up about an hour later on the corner of the Justianstraße and the Deutz-Kalkerstraße, also wrapped with dandelions. (Béla's mother taught me that in German that weed/flower is called Löwenzahn.) It was as if someone had gone around town adorning bits of Löwenzahn with tape ...

When I was in Brooklyn one of the charming volunteers at the Conflux festival (who invested a lot of energy in the arranging of a thousand-and-one practical things) started to talk to me enthusiastically about the tapes project. It took me some minutes before I understood that she actually had misunderstood what I was doing. She thought that I would go wandering around Williamsburg and actually place bits and pieces of audiotape in the neighboorhood ... Now isn't that a wonderfully poetic inversion? ... She explained that she had only seen the pictures - including the dandelion ones from Cologne - and she had imagined these to be posed photographs; that I actually arranged for them ... [ altered reality ]

#448For some reason several of the tapes found in Cologne turned out to be especially photogenic. Like this "crown of thorns", which I slid off a metal pole on the pavement alongside a taxi stand on the Hohenzollernring, on the morning of april 4th, 2007. It was my seventh and final find in Köln. During the remaining part of that wednesday I disentangled and repaired the tapes I had found in the Raum für Kunst und Musik, in the Aachenerstraße, which was at the disposal of the Tapemosphere Boyz, for events to accompany the Tapemosphere #9 installation in the Moltkerei.

raum fuer kunst raum fuer kunst

The other days already I had put up some found tape pictures, together with some related objects and debris on the wall. And on tuesday evening in a corner near the door I constructed sort of a hanging cassette cemetery, which makes for wonderful wind chimes to chase away your fears ... :

The Raum für Kunst und Musik was the ninth Tapemosphere's Aktionsort, its "action center", and as such it officially opened on wednesday evening april 4th.
Rinus van Alebeek came over from Wuppertal, to perform, and I had managed to wind all my Cologne finds back into a cassette, for use in a 'found tapes presentation' during the vernissage. While we were sound checking, late afternoon, I made a silly mistake. I checked the playing of the cassette containing the tapes found in Cologne, but then, instead of hitting the 'stop' button, I must have pushed the 'record' button. A mistake I only discovered some minutes later. I had broken off the two little tabs on the top, so theoretically the tape should have been write protected, but for some reason that security mechanism failed on my vintage Philips machine, and - even though nothing new seemed to have been recorded (through the built in microphone) on it - those couple of minutes of found tape sound were erased. Luckily that all tapes found in Köln had two recorded sides, so that no finds were lost completely; but the erased part of find #444 did contain some pretty typical Cologne sound, namely a carnival song sung in Cologne dialect ... (the other side had similar music, but no singing).

tapemosphere boyz

Oh well, whatever, nevermind... It was a fun evening, that wednesday in the Aachenerstraße, starting with Rinus, who somehow from tentatively and seemingly at random fooling around with his half-broken machines almost imperceptibly slipped into a feast of floating and majestically chanting feedbackery.
I then sat cross-legged on the low wooden platform, to talk about found tapes and tape finding, while playing a selection of samples chosen among the many curiosities picked from the gutters that I past over these past five years.
On the tapemosphere #9 webpage you'll find a couple of short video impressions, both of Rinus and me.
Later that evening Rinus and I improvised (and ping-pong-ed along to) Balz Isler's reciting ... [ like (but then in german): "at times when she was talking I imagined being able to fast-forward my grandmother, so that ear I could -lier - ear. - ear.. - ear... -lier go outside to play-play, and with my friends ... but she was and... alone and - needed attention ... and talked ... she talked ..." ] ... with whom the other day in the morning I walked from the Moltkerei to the Aachenerstraße to buy bread in a bakery, where there was a pile of local newspapers lying on the counter, headlining on its frontpage the story of an eleven year old boy run over by a train, but surviving between the rails, with only the slightest of injury ... "Glück im Unglück hatte ein Junge in Sendenhorst im Kreis Warendorf," it read. "Beim Überqueren eines Bahnübergangs wurde der elfjährige Radfahrer von einem herannahenden Güterzug erfasst und zwischen die Schienen geschleudert. Der Zug rollte über ihn hinweg, verletzte ihn aber nur leicht, wie die Polizei mitteilte." [ wdr.de ]
A fait divers, it was a short text, along these lines, only a couple of them. But it came with a page wide picture taken from a spectacular angle, of a boy lying on a railway track, underneath a ferocious looking train. Not a photograph it was. For how could it have been? It was a computer drawing, and Balz and I agreed that there was some deep lesson on modern times to be drawn from this fact. We agreed only slightly less on what lesson that was. The sun shone, it was a great day, and then there were police cars passing that halfway back to the Moltkerei drowned our discussion in the sound of their sirens.

Found in Cologne

Gefunden in Köln/Found in Cologne is the 80th acquisition of the Found Tapes Exhibition, and the third found tapes montage appearing in our series of 'special limited cassette edition cassettes' ( * ). The next one in this series will be 'Found in Brussels', containing extracts from the tapes that I picked up in Brussels, during my stay at the wonderful Recyclart center, early june 2007. 'Found in Brussels' will be the 83rd acquisition, and it indeed is the next one on the (chronological) list. Acquisitions nrs. 81 and 82 already are online, as I was able to prepare these on november 30th and december 1st of 2007, when - as part of the seventh parisian Dorkbot - the Found Tapes were to be seen and heard during the festival/fair celebrating ten years of the ARTE TV emission "Tracks", in the Espace Agnès B., Paris X.

dorkbot arte
dorbote arte 3 dorkbot arte

The YouTube video report above was - of course! - made by Rébus (he has also another, more 'general', one). As you will understand, merely by watching: it was fun. Thanks to Dorkbot for having me, thanks to Arte for having Dorkbot ...
It was notably the very first time that - during the festival's vernissage, on november 30th, 2007 - I spent an evening repairing and rewinding found tapes, while drinking champagne, à volonté ... ;-) ...

Happy New Year !

notes __ ::
(*) You can buy "Found in Cologne", as well as the still available copies of the other cassettes in the "Found In ..." series, in our Found Tapes Exhibition online store. [ ^ ]

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