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Foundtapers & Foundtaping in Porto

november 17, 2019

Over this year's Armistice weekend, WeiWei and me flew to Porto, where Portuguese [sound] artist and musician Pedro Augusto this month started the whatchamacallit —unknotting, disentangling and re-spooling, archiving and documenting — of trashed tapes that he has been collecting (mainly) in Porto (but also elsewhere) since 2004.


It was an intriguing experience, for many reasons. But first of all because part of it was like looking per and through a mirrored time machine, that had me see others do what I do, or rather: did. For even though my 'foundtaping' flame's still burning, it indeed for a quite a while has been doing so more sparingly. Since, say, our 2013's activities feasting the K7's 50th birthday ("2013=C50"), I have spent but little time 'curating' my collection of trashed tapes. I still pick them from the streets, though that happens —with a little peak every there and then— quite a bit less frequently than a decade ago. For the obvious reason that since about 2010 hardly anybody in these parts of the world listens anymore to cassette tapes played back in portable personal stereo devices or, indeed, in car-stereo players. It made that the once so prominently present tape salad slowly disappeared from our cityscapes.

There is but a few spots where tape salad is still cropping up, waiting for harvest. In the vicinity of flea markets, for example, as witnessed by the pictures below, made this 2019's summer near the puces de Montreuil in Paris, and somewhat earlier, in this year's spring, along a pavement facing the Place du Jeu de Balle (Vossenplein) in Brussels.


Near the puces de Montreuil, Paris, summer 2019 ↑
Place du Jeu de Balle / Vossenplein, Brussels, spring 2019 ↓


Pedro Augusto, together with Mariana Sardon and a small team of other collaborators, these days started preparing for an exhibition, that will be accompanied by a limited edition analog (paper printed) book, to be held and presented in Porto next spring, and dedicated to the tape trash that he collected over the past fifteen years, mainly in Porto, but also elsewhere in the world.

Pedro, like me, picks up the pieces and bits of discarded audio tape that he comes across on his daily go abouts. And, like me, he puts them into small bags, envelopes, folded pieces of paper, anything, really, that happens to be ready to hand. And like me he jots down date, place, maybe also time, on small pieces of paper, that he sticks with the bits and pieces of tape for later reference. All of it then goes into a drawer or some box, sort of like an Andy Warhol 'time capsule', to be kept and guarded for appraisal at some future point in time.


Not far from Porto's Casa da Música, an outstanding theater dedicated to the performance, the creation, the production of music, designed by Dutch star architect Rem Koolhaas, the Porto foundtapers set up a comfortable work space where they diligently go through all of Pedro's little bags, envelopes and papers, somewhere along Porto's avenida da Boavista, in the darkish down floor store & storage space of a friend of Pedro's, who also goes by the name of Pedro. They sort and archive all that the little bags contain. Like on these big boards, chronologically ...


... and on a Porto map of tape finds ... which of course makes me wonder whether also on the Porto map eventually patterns of Pedro's past moving around town will emerge, like they did on my Parisian foundtaping map...


Then of course all of this saladed tape trash —the knots, tangles, braids, gnarls, twirls, twists, warps, whirls, whorls that together make all these wads of cassetti-spagetti— has to be unknotted and re-spooled...
The Porto team turned out to be very well-equipped for the re-spooling and restoring task, having procured a large quantity of empty cassette cases at Edisco's, a small factory in Porto that is still producing tapes. I will try to visit the factory some next time in Port, have a look there and talk to the persons that (as I gathered from Pedro) have continued to run this small family business, despite the declining demand in a world turning ever more digital.


And Mariana made her own (straight-cut) tape splicing block... Haha, it is a work worthy of art all on its own, not in the least because straight cutting tape (rather than diagonally ↗, at an angle of 45°) would not have been the traditional analog tape editor's default choice of cutting... (the diagonal cut will work like a physical cross-fade between the signals on the two bits of tape spliced together).


Ah, and it takes time to do all of this!
A lot of time.
I know from experience ... it is the reason that for the past 5, 6, 7 years the bits and pieces of tape that I continued to collect did rarely leave the big plastic trunk in which I continue to amass the bags and envelops that contain them. I did not find time to work on the finds, and the few exceptions —the yearly Vieux Media Fests at La Générale, and last year's stay at Wolfgang Dorninger's Cassette Culture Node.Linz exhibition—, were too short to result in new additions and extend the online exhibition beyond its current final entry (dating May 11th 2011).

Visiting Porto may not have given me the time that I need to update my online collection directly, but it definitely inspired me to re-start being on the lookout for such time; and for occasions to open up my trash tape trunk, and enable the addition of new fotex's, counting onward from 120. And —most of all— continue to weave the Très Grande Collage (h/f)...

So, chances are that within not too long I will be again doing what Pedro and Marina are doing in the series of pics here below —undoing the tape knot, led by a choreography that can not be but similar. Along with the patience and all of the handiness it takes...


Tape Talk

On Sunday evening November 10th, in the Porto workspace, I recounted the (hi)story of my foundtaping, the Found Tapes Exhibition (FTE), and some of the thoughts about and around it. With images and sounds.


For Pedro, Marina, other team members and friends...

...it's about the talking of the tapes, the sound injury, about sonic degradation and the gradual disappearance of analog signals being caught up by entropy, ever so slowly or lightning fast (all always relative), turning into —eventually mere white— noise... it's about memories frozen and graved on little strings of plastic, about physicality, the touchability of history, about re-winding and spooling things that are like time lines... it's all about Krapp ... it's socio-geographic images sketched by the random sampling of musical tastes and preferences, inherent in the foundtaping... there's the situationist link, about tape finding as urban dérive... the resulting collage of found sounds is a sonic psychogeography, a fabulous derive through the un-hearable mists of the urban sound space of the past three, four decades ...

... it's about time for me to open up my own time capsules again ...


Read all about Found Tapes, Foundtaping and Audio Cassettes (K7s) on the SoundBlog:

(2023, september 21) - Holland[s] Spoor
(2022, january 11) - 'The Art of K7', vol. 1
(2021, september 11) - The Art of K7 :: Sudokaising [ii] Time Folds
(2020, march 21) - The Art of K7 :: Sudokaising [i]
(2019, november 17) - Foundtapers & Foundtaping in Porto
(2019, februay 08) - CCNL :: Cassette Culture in Linz, Austria [ii] The aesthetics of erasure
(2019, januay 18) - CCNL :: Cassette Culture in Linz, Austria [i] Oral history
(2015, november 22) - Situasonnisme: the City Sonic Festival
(2014, june 19) - Lecture de Cassette
(2013, october 25) - The Art of K7 (prelude) [sketch/book, 1]
(2013, march 23) - "Ma première cassette était vierge..." Mourning & celebrating 50 years of compact cassette
(2012, july 26) - UnOfficial Release
(2010, november 28) - Foundtaping, Maps & Shadows at the Basel Shift Festival (i.)
(2009, november 15) - prof. dr. Cassette
(2009, november 08) - A found tapes meta-map
(2009, october 22) - Founded Tapapes
(2009, september 20) - Found Lost Sound
(2009, july 26) - "You, a bed, the sea ..." [ 1. Athens, sept. 28th 1994 ]
(2009, may 23) - It feels like summer in the city [KT2009, i]
(2009, february 19) - Time and the weather - "? Footage or Fetish" @ Käämer 12, Brussels (ii)
(2009, january 30) - A Tingel Tangle Tape Machine - "? Footage or Fetish" @ Käämer 12, Brussels (i)
(2009, january 15) - Kassettenkopf
(2008, december 08) - un-Tuned City (foundtaping in Neukölln)
(2008, september 14) - Psycho/Geo/Conflux in Brooklyn, NY __i.
(2008, august 31) - " Le chasseur " (foundtaping in brussels_ii)
(2008, june 18) - "Sing Laping, Sing !" (foundtaping in brussels_ i)
(2008, january 06) - Mo' Better Mo-Tapemosphere, 2. Restmuell
(2007, june 16) - Mo' Better Mo-Tapemosphere, 1. "chase away all my fear"
(2007, march 07) - Back to Berlin 2. Found Tapes
(2006, september 28) - jenny likes poets
(2006, september 06) - the sound of almost-no-more words
(2006, june 13) - fotex #49-51
(2006, june 04) - Sonofakunsttoer
(2006, april 17-25) - 'sudoku-solution' in 'de nor'
(2006, january 19) - ride, buggy, ride ... !
(2006, january 13) - axiologie for dummies
(2005, november 06) - found in maastricht
(2005, august 28) - tête-de-tettine / tête-de-cassette
(2005, august 23) - tape busters and coordinates
(2005, july 02) - Conquering America ...
(2005, june 03) - stationed soother
(2005, april 21) - Low-fi : the new Readymades
(2005, march 24) - d_Revolution #1 ...
(2005, february 07) - found tapes for spies
(2005, january 28) - "parfois l'amour tourne à l'obsession ..."
(2004, november 06) - à la tranquilité
(2004, july 20) - instructions in arabic
(2004, may 08) - phound stufphs
(2003, august 04) - new acquisitions #7, #8
(2003, may 04) - r2r
(2003, april 24) - splice and tape
(2003, april 15) - new acquisitions #5,#6
(2003, january 09) - finders keepers
(2002, november 24) - exhibit #4
(2002, november 08) - what fascinates me
(2002, november 07) - more on found tape montage
(2002, september 14) - detour
(2002, september 09) - 2 down, 3 to go
(2002, september 06) - magnetic migration

Read about Found Tapes in Gonzo (Circus) [Dutch]:

Gonzo #163, mei/juni 2021 - Lang Leve Lou Ottens
Gonzo #137, januari/februari 2017 - Het Kaf en het Koren

tags: found tapes, foundtaping, K7, Porto

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