Monday, April 6, 2009

In the loop

Allow me to interject into this SXSW coverage to write about a note worthy event that took place this last weekend. While it might not necessarily qualify as music, John and I opted not to call this blog, “Music-suppository,” but rather, “Aural-suppository.” And though there might be a conflict of interest here, beyond my personal involvement this really was a very fascinating event. (And arts project in general. Something that, sadly, DC is all too lacking in …)

Several months ago I was asked if I was going to take part in a tape-loop project that a local sound artist was putting together. I said I hadn’t heard anything about it, but was certainly interested. they forwarded me the, somewhat cryptic, information encouraging me to ask for a tape if I wanted to participate. Magically, one appeared in my mailbox about a week later that was numbered, labeled, and contained some simple instructions. I was to read the passage typed on the back of the insert, and then use that to give insight, and inspiration as to what I would ultimately record onto the loop.

I’ll spare you the details of what I ended up with, and instead skip straight to the good part.

All of the preparation went towards meeting in a specific place, bringing said tape loop along with a player, finding a suitable spot, letting the tape play, and then exploring the new terrain created by a large number of other people doing the same thing. Even following the map provided, I new better than to trek off to this place myself. I took the organizers advice, and met at his place, to walk over with a suitable guide. Obviously, there was no way I could have possibly found this place myself. What we ended up walking into was an overwhelming set of ruins that I was told were the remains of the original fa├žade of the capitol building:

It's clear how stumbling upon a place like this could give someone any number of insporations. I set my tape player up, and waited to see if anyone else was going to show. (even as a mere participator, I was uncertain of attendance.) But sure enough, one by one, both tape loop players and tape loop listeners of all types began to arrive.

Around twenty minutes into the official start time given, it became a true installation. The entire area transformed into an exotic jungle of experience. It was not only nice wandering the terrain, hearing the various other ideas that people had dreamed up, but also seeing the true diversity of the crowd itself. At it’s height, it was very crowded in many different definitions of the word:

While rife with incidental sounds, I was able to get a recording of the early loops that were set up. (There were many more going later, but it was hard to get a good recording without human voices at that point):

Tapeloopinstallation - Tapeloopproject

And finally, after a mere two hours, it was all over. The spell was broken, and the rocks and trees returned to their previous and unassuming state. All in all, a good day that I was glad to have been a part of.

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