HarSMedia

T'obsolete or not t'obsolete ...
Vieux Media Fests à La Générale - 1

august 19 , 2017


#1 - A little over a year ago ...

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To once more firmly underline, as it were, the dictum that there is no such thing as chance, Anthony Carcone stumbled upon the curious 'vieux media totem' in the picture above some time in the very middle of last year's Vieux Media week at La Générale. It is a K7-tape tree, that was home-made for unknown reasons, and then for equally unknown reasons abandoned in the streets of Paris, to be precise in the Cours de Vincennes, Paris XX, opposite the Printemps store. All this happened a little over a year ago, on the 21st of July 2016. Upon receiving the pic that Anthony sent me of his discovery, I quickly went there, together with Manli. And yes, we did manage to take possession of it.

With the help of Anthony we were able to move it - heavy and cumbersome - to La G., where it became - silent - part & illustration of the then ongoing activities there. Like a metaphor for things that were. Or, at least, for some of them.

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One of the first things we did for last year's Vieux Media Fest at La Générale was setting up of the screen for Ana Jorge's liquid light shows and workshop. Ana had come over from Bergen, Norway, invited by Shanghai 'clubbing girl', Zhyu Dai, who had seen Ana do her light show during a psychedelic rock festival in Lisbon that she had been to earlier this year together with Manli, and then and there decided that she wanted to learn the how-to-do herself.

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I climbed all the way up to adorn the top of the screen with one of Michael Ghent's 'Trust Us' cardboard sculptures, the one that was reading - as can be seen in the picture - Plus Loin...

... my way of pointing to where I learned about psychedelic light shows and imagined them way before experiencing (Dutch derivatives) in real life. Plus Loin of course refers to Further, the old school bus that took Ken Kesey and his Merry Prankster on their 1960s hippy acid crusade across the United States, as recounted in Tom Wolfe's The electric kool-aid acid test, a book that - in its reflective silver covered Dutch translation - in the 1970s was kind of a bible to me.

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Rooted in the old psychedelic light shows handicraft, all is done by hand, and Ana's main tools are a whole lot of types of glass and other transparent and translucent materials and containers, liquids, paints and oils which then are mixed and manipulated on one or more overhead projectors.

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The pics are from the opening concert (↑) on July 17th, with & curated by Yaping Wang, and the closing night (↓) on July 22nd, also directed by Yaping.

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Special guest was German composer and musician Margarete Huber, whom Emmanuel and I had already met a few weeks earlier in Berlin, for an unPublic early morning session in her studio in Wedding. It was my pleasure also to have Margarete be guest in my Vincennes house for a couple of days. Margarete did a fine duo-performance with Jean Bordé on the closing night of the 2016 Vieux Media Fest, on July 22nd, in which I actually should have joined them, but then in the end I did not (mainly because that day I was not in a performing mood ... 😩).

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As part of Margarete and Jean's performance Rébus projected his fabulous set of found moldy and degraded Sur l'Autoroute ('On the highway') slides (from a course teaching French highway traffic rules), that already more than ten years ago served as visuals for a videoclip of one of the versions of Cosmodrone's Orguanisation.

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I had brought bags and boxes filled with the magnetic tape rubbish that - occasionally - I still come across in the streets and picked up, since 2011, but that I not yet have found the proper time & occasion to organize, document and add to my online Found Tapes Exhibition, which - as a matter of fact - I really should attend to... However slowly, time and the ephemerality of form in our digital epoch is getting a grip on it. Like, the sounds can no longer be heard, as the were hosted on the Park web servers in Amsterdam, that went down a few years ago ... Nothing that I can not mend, mind you. It just needs time and a place. And there so little of that, especially time.

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There was a bit of time that week at La Générale, and with the help of Manli at the very least I managed to sort and index the finds of the past five years. Not so many, for the obvious well known reasons, but still a good thirty of them... Not done yet: the digitalization of the sounds, extension of the so amazing Found Tapes soundcollage, currently with a 13 and a half hours playing time and then - finally - putting them on line as the newest acquisitions of Exhibition... And then meanwhile obviously a few more will have to be added... Ah, I should get this up to date asap 😤 !

#2 - Medium

This is my preferred 'definition' of what is a medium -: A medium is a something/anything that enables form; it is something that makes form possible in the broadest sense. As, again in this broadest sense, a form basically is a something/anything that determines a difference (when there is no difference there is no form), a medium is any thingy that will allow you to make a difference.

#3 - Hacking spirits

Rébus entitled the 2016 edition of his Vieux Media Fest "Esprit Hacker, es tu là ?", and clearly indeed pretty much all of the events could be interpreted as a form of medium-hacking... the liquid lights show, un-discarding discarded magnetic tape... manipulating a home built laser, basically bought on eBay...

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... and - at least two - noteworthy attempts at (relatively innocent) sonic body hacking - both, on the sounding side, involving my Korg MS20 synthesizer. With the help of Annie Sallaberry, accomplished acupuncturist and specialist in Chinese medicine, we experimented with the sonification of acupuncture, sticking needles in food, as well as in my arm.

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One of the aesthetic highlights of the 2016 Vieux Media Fest, on July 20th, the vin(gt) of the month, undoubtedly was the pretty much impromptu magnetic bondageperformance, styled and staged by Zhiyu and Manli, with the help of Delphine, who also scanned the VHS tape wrapped around the girls' bodies with a handheld tape-head, the signal of which then was led on to and used as input for my Korg MS20. (The particular tape used was that of Albator 84, the French edition of a popular Japanese animation series from the early 1980s, around the figure of a Captain Harlock, a former military captain in the Solar Federation who becamean outlaw and a pirate captain on the star ship Arcadia ...)

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Well, OK, I have to admit that the idea and intention were to use a handheld tape head to scan the tape as part of the performance. But in the short time available we somehow did not get a handheld tape head to work, hence we replaced it by a handheld piezo microphone that Delphine passed along the tape as if it were a tape head. It were the sounds generated by the moving of this contact mike that passed through my Korg MS20, where I filtered them and used them to trigger the synths oscillators, thus generating an improvised soundtrack of gratings, noises and glidings, directed by Delphine's slow massage of the tape wrapped around Manli & Zhiyu, who all the time remained motionless, like statues, like dolls.

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'Magnetic bondage', with its wrapping body parts in magnetic tape, surely falls into some sort of a tradition, though I am not (yet) aware of evident precedents where the tape used for the wrapping actually is played back ... Makes me wonder, by the way, whether it can be made possible to play back by hand - somehow - the images on magnetic VHS (or other format) tapes ...

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Reminded me also of the head wrapped in 'found' tape pictures that I made in 2005, during the 'tête-de-tettine / tête-de-cassette' photoshoot with my then 12 year old son Alec ... 🤓

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A personal hacking spirit inspired me to use one of the soldering irons that were lying around at La G during 2016's Vieux Media Fest to fasten the tape head that we had removed from some walkman, but then didn't get to function in time for Manli and Ziyu's Magnetic Bondage performance, on a small metal ring, thus producing the prototype of a quite magnificent piece of jewelry...

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It is a bit on the bulky side for my taste, however, so I plan to re-do it using a head taken from a micro-cassette dictaphone. Best of all, of course, will be to make it such that it actually can be used to play back tape, providing tiny connectors that will allow for the plugging of little wires to feed its signal to an amplifier ...

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... OK. So far, so good... Now on to the next year of Vieux Media at La Générale... [ text coming soon ! ]

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tags: obsolescence, vieux media, found tapes, light show, magnetic bondage

# .473.




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