by Clive Young.
These days, we all hear a lot about recycling and “being green.” At the same time, thanks to the economy, many of us are also focused making the most of what we have.
For the pro audio world, that usually means retooling that aging computer in the studio to squeeze a little more useful life out of it, or jerry-rigging the mixer in a ratty club to keep it going for a few more months. There’s an art to eking more out of less, and of course, we do a lot of it in the name of presenting art, too.
For some artists, however, recycling and revamping waning audio technologies is more than just about use—it’s the art itself.
For instance, take Erika Iris Simmons, an artist in Georgia who goes by the name iRI5. Most of her work centers around non-traditional media, and she writes on her website, “I love the nostalgia of the archaic and I hope that not everything which has outlived its use goes to waste.” A perfect case in point is her “Ghost in the Machine” series, which creates pop art portraits out of discarded audio tape:
Bob Dylan (c)iRI5
Tom Waits ©iRI5
Ian Curtis (late singer of Joy Division) (c)iRI5
For a more audio-centric view of reusing audio detritus, you may want to discover Christian Marclay, whose work with discarded LPs is just this side of mind-boggling.
Album tracks have been called “cuts” for decades, DJs have been “scratching” since the 1970s, and the Beatles famously sliced up tape of an organ and taped it all back together to create the eerie background on “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite.”
Marclay takes all those concepts and rolls them into one, by performing with LPs that have literally been sliced up, mixed around and glued back together. The result is strange, but also strangely beautiful, and surprisingly more musical than you might initially expect.
Today’s economy requires us all to be careful about how we use the resources we have, but clearly, it should never stop up from finding new ways to be resourceful.