'For a fan, a record is so much more than the record. It's a signifier, a membership card, a memento, a coveted treasure, a life's pursuit, a piece of art, but most of all (for me) it's a bridge, the physical incarnation of the connection between the artist and the fan. The record contains a literal translation of the vibration that occured when someone sang something, beat something, strummed something in a studio or a bedroom somewhere; the needle bounces along on those vibrations carved into the vinyl. It's the music of course, but it's also the whole package - the art, choice of songs and their ordering into A and B sides, the cover image, the liner notes, the labels, the color of the vinyl, and the messages etched onto the smooth, blank inner ring of vinyl.'That is Mac McCaughan, founding member of rock band Superchunk, co-founder of Merge Records, and solo artist and blogger under the name of Portastic, writing in The Record, Contemporary Art and Vinyl. This generously illustrated book catalogues the exhibition of the same name which was presented at Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina from Sept 2010 to Feb 2011 and which opens in the The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston on April 15. The Record, Contemporary Art and Vinyl, explores the culture of vinyl records within contemporary art from 1965 to 2010 and the accompanying book adds authoritative essays to illustrations of vinyl inspired art. But the book is much more than a sumptuous coffee table volume, because by looking at the past it tells us about the future.
Mac McCaughan writes of vinyl as being a literal translation of the vibration created by the performance, and of the LP as being a bridge, the physical incarnation of the connection between performer and audience. The same concept of literal translation informed my recent transmission theory post and the same bridge was encapsulated by Benjamin Britten in his 'holy triangle' of composer, performer and listener. Digital culture is destroying that bridge and the literal translation of vibrations is being replaced by Twitter hashtags. A record is so much more than the record, music is so much more than the binary digits, and a concert is so much more than the next twittertunity - move over iPhone, here comes vinyl.
The Record, Contemporary Art and Vinyl was borrowed from Norfolk Millenium Library. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
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