december 31, 2013.
This winter solstice (in the early evening of December 21st), four cassetteurs gathered in a desolate, cold and old industrial building on the East side of Paris. As Rébus observed: the place looked as if it had not been touched since 1963. That is, what we could make out in the dark. We had to find our way using our cellphones as torch-lights and candles.
It was a marvelous setting for the final, unpublic, 2013 = C50 event that we had in mind, the main part of which was designed as a 'cassette ritual', to which each cassetteur contributed one side of a C60 cassette tape of his choice.
Blenno Wurstbrücke brought a found cassette on which was written 'doors LY-Y'. He had re-recorded over most of the tape's original audio content, in a somewhat random back-and-forth, manner, documenting his & the tape's three day voyage from Ibiza up to its play-back in Paris on December 21st.
Anton Mobin picked side B of the first of three 'Warszawa' tapes, being a cassette audio journal of a trip to the Polish capital that he undertook in August of this year.
E_Rébus contributed a side of a cassette that he found in Bures-sur-Yvette some years ago. The audio content is succinctly described, manuscript, on the cassette's label: "Mise en état hypnoïde. Son altesse Anne-Sophie."
I had brought one of the tapes of my long-running cassette sound diary ( cf. Sound Chronicles). The side I played back contains recordings made in May 1990 - in Edinburgh, on the ferry from Hoek van Holland to Harwich, in a train from York to Hull, somewhere on a platform of Brussels Central Station, at home in Amsterdam, in Maastricht and in Leuven (Belgium).
Along with the tapes, each of us brought a dictaphone with built-in loudspeaker. In one of the rooms we found something that looked like a metal cover for a heater. This contraption we used as a small rectangular platform.
We put a dictaphone + cassette in each of the rectangle's corners.
In the picture, in clock-wise direction starting from the top-left corner, there's Blenno's player, Anton's player, my player and that of Rebus.
The recipe for the sonic 'ritual' that followed was as simple and straightforward as it was effective: the four dictaphones were put into playback mode simultaneously. And we then just let the four cassettes play, simultaneously.
Each cassette continued playing for the thirty and something minutes that the chosen side lasted, until the tape reached its end, and the dictaphone shut down; with a click.
I recorded the resulting 'solstice tape mix' in double stereo (front and rear) with a digital Zoom recorder, placed at the rectangle's center.
You can listen to a stereo projection of that four channel recording on the fourth edition of our unPublic series, available as a 'name your price' download at Bandcamp's. (see the embedded player below)
While the dictaphones were playing, we went up some more stairs, out onto the building's roof, where we raised our glasses full of champagne, and brought a final toast to (Lang leve!) Lou Ottens.
One can, of course, imagine all sorts of interesting variations on this 'cassette ritual'. Without changing what I consider to be its essence: a number of cassette tapes are being played back 'acoustically' (i.e. using a cassette player's built-in speaker, without additional amplification), without any supplementary manipulation.
One might, for example, modify the number of cassettes being played back; and/or the disposition of the dictaphones.
But one can also imagine actually composing the audio content of the cassettes that are being used, in some way or another. In the ritual as we performed it on December 21st, none of us knew beforehand what would be on the tapes that the others would bring. The only (more or less common sense) indication given, was not to bring a tape that sonically is very dense (i.e. no 'walls of noise').
The resulting mix that evening therefore was largely the result of 'random' clashes of the respective recordings.
It would be interesting to do a set of these 'ritual' pieces, for which each of the cassetteurs will be given more precise instructions as to the character, timbre and the duration of the sounds on the cassette that he or she is asked to bring along. Also of course the duration could vary; for this it will suffice to use cassettes containing stretches of tape of the appropriate length.
[ Here is a short uTube impression of our unpublic solstice tape ritual, made by Rébus, followed by the Bandcamp player with the digital unPublic album of the recordings that we made that December 21st in Paris. ]
(Added February 26th, 2014) Ian-John Hutchinson, Tyler Brown and Russell Moore nicely underlined that the 'unPublic 2013=C50 cassette ritual' at heart is a recipe, an event score, a choreography almost, that can be performed and re-interpreted again and again. They performed their own version, on Sunday February 23rd 2014 at the Yogiga Gallery in Seoul. Each of them brought one dictaphone, and one cassette with field recordings made in the months preceding the event. Ramoo Hong added movement...
Here is a short Vimeo clip of the Seoul ritual:
" 일요일의 테이프 콜라주공연에요.삼명함께하고세개테이프에요. Reply to unPublic...Sunday's tape collage performance at Yogiga...three people, three tapes 日曜日のテープ作品です。。。三人と三つテープ "
More unPublic on the SoundBlog:
(june 10, 2016) - unPublic #18 - 대부도 (Daebu-Do), 14 June 2015 (uP#18)
(may 7, 2016) - In Praise of Slowness (uP#21)
(july 15, 2015) - Bridges, troubles, water (uP#19)
(april 14, 2015) - Mal-là--colisé dans l'espace et dans le temps (uP#16)
(august 02, 2014) - Appearance and Reality (uP#8)
(march 08, 2014) - "12 - 11 - 9 - 10 - 3 - 6 - 7 - 1 - 2 - 8 - 4 - 5" (uP#5)
(december 31, 2013) - Candles, Cassettes & Champagne (uP#4)
(november 23, 2013) - unPublic 1, 2 (sauf riverains) (uP#1, uP#2)
tags: unpublic, 2013 = C50, cassette, Lou Ottens
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