The Voice as an Object, Voice V- PLAY REC.

Voice V — PLAY REC.
Arantxa Gonlag & Vincent van Velsen.
Exhibition: 04/07 – 13/09 2015
Social gathering: Saturday 04/07 at 6pm




In order to play, something has to be recorded. Found footage is an accepted artform. The internet is full of recordings. Broadcasts of police violence. Fifteen second pursuits of fame on YouTube. Freezeframing life by taking shots. Providing Barthesian confrontations with memories, death and decay. Referring to ballistic terminology. A safari-like gesture: go out, shoot pictures and frame them. Attach them to the wall. They provide good company to elpehants, lions and deers. Dia-evenings to show your friends: look where I’ve been, see what I’ve seen, look at my captures. Make landscape shots to appropriate land. Photography as a means to register what is owned by empires, or to ethnologically study the people of the world – rightful and rightless subordinates. Back home, analyse the different species. Present them together with the botanical collection. Photography as a means of ownership. At the same time, a mode of crossing geographical boundaries and man-made borders: sharing experience of life at a distance.

Then film came along. Terminology did not change. However, after shooting and capturing, recording and playing came along. Referencing theatricality. A fun(ny) act apparently. When I consider Josephine Baker in her banana skirt, or Charlie Chaplin in black and white, a bit sped up with their weird staccato movements – I can relate to the element of fun. And it goes forward, the Play sign indicates. You can also go back (at unknown speed) RWD, fast forward FFWD, or Pause II in between. But you first have to record REC. Then the play can follow.

Archives are stacked with film. Records are only collected by a few. The round black shiny vinyl with grooves and a hole in the middle that come in a paper cover. You play them – the needle reads them. They used to be pressed. Their time came and went. A new era ushered in. One of radio and tapes, with BASF and TDK as household names. Now REC. and PLAY have to be pressed simultaneously in order to record. Timing was crucial to capture the right part – right from the start. Recording and copying was the norm: piracy avant la lettre. What’s in a name? Pirates capturing the property of empires. Bootlegging as a means to co-ownership.

Then, these empires teamed up with other players to block free flow of recordings. Defending their property, shooting juridical arrows at the pirates: fastforward. No pauses. No playtime allowed. Ask Aaron Swartz. Are the best things in life free? The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Only one Amazon may survive. Streaming it shall be. It has only one owner, and it flows. It cannot be recorded nor captured. Though, we all get caught up. This is property – not fish. You can ask Somali ‘pirates’ who own those streams too. Ownership belongs to a few. Sharks.

Yet, you might think you own something. But those stacks of private recordings remain idle. Worthless childhood memories. Analogue matter equals nostalgia. Only to become forgotten abbreviations. VHS, LP, CD? You can transfer them to the digital world. Your material equals waste. Turn them into new abbreviations: JPEG, MPEG, NSA. Tangibility is overrated. Clouds matter. Share your belongings with Google, Microsoft, Apple, and an incidental 16-year-old. What do you have to hide anyway? Use Snapchat, if you do not want to be saved. Or show yourself in Instagram empires. Get appropriated by Princes. Whatsapp? Kodak and tapes are dead. Digital life: that is real life! Meanwhile you are being recorded. Who’s playing?

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Arantxa Gonlag