Early July of last year, 2018, WeiWei and I had the great pleasure of flying over to Austria and there participated in Wolfgang Dorninger's superb Cassette Culture Node.Linz exhibition and events, in and around the beautiful Ursulinenhof Foyer on the OK Platz in the OÖ Kulturquartier, the cultural heart of the city of Linz.
Wolfgang's invitation gave me a much appreciated chance to review, update and re-visit my Found Tapes Exhibition, that for quite some years already had pretty much lain dormant.
The FTE (http://foundtapes.soundblog.net) is my collection of restored magnetic audiotape trash, some of the reel-to-reel kind, but most of it is - or used to be - cassette tape.
I began to pick up discarded audio tapes as part of my everyday movements in and around Paris in the early spring of 2002, and soon developed sort of a sixth sense for the presence of outdoor tape trash. Or maybe it rather is an aberration, a mental tick of sorts, but while walking, cycling or driving I will -inescapably and unfalteringly- spot, in many cases already from great distance, any wad or sling of magnetic tape that finds itself on or near my path. Over the past years seventeen years, but mainly from 2002 to 2012, I thus salvaged near to 800 distinct broken and trashed magnetic audio tapes, in Paris, Amsterdam, Maastricht, Brussels, Berlin, New York and wherever else I happened to pass. Some of these still more or less intact, but most of them reduced to clods, knots and wads, that I picked up from the shoulders of highways, from pavements and lawns, that I fished out of gutters, covered in dust, mud and dog’s shit, that I untied from fences, from poles, from branches in bushes and trees, where once they got caught, trapped, shredded and torn, where they were worn, warped and wasted by rain, wind, sand and pollution.
Seven hundred and ten (710) of these bits and strings (all finds that I collected up to early 2011) I subsequently painstakingly untied and unknotted, I spooled them back into empty cassette cases, put those into a cassette player, pressed play and listened... All of it then was digitalised and documented in a continuing online ‘travelogue’, an always evolving Exhibition of Found Tapes. In the course of the years the digitalised often badly injured audio - the digitalising was 'straight, no chasers' - got concatenated into a dazzling fourteen hours and counting collage, a found 'plunder-sym-phony', that - a nod to the French high speed trains - I have baptised the TGC, the « Très Grande Collage (m/f) ».
The TGC gives a unique and utterly fascinating glimpse of the massive audio memory that was built up worldwide in the span of the three decades (1980 – 2010) that the compact audio cassette was a common household item, routinely put to use for the recording and playing back of every thinkable kind of music, for the keeping of messages by the answering machines that were attached to practically every telephone line, as a tool for dictation, as an aid for the learning of languages, as a medium for audio plays, for preaching, praying and meditation, for advertising and political propaganda, for the recording of private thoughts and reflections to be sent as audio letters to friends, family or lovers, for storing the software that ran on the earliest types of our personal computers...
All of the TGC, the fourteen (14) hour chain of street-trash-found sound bits and pieces can be heard a couple of times in one single stretch on the Berlin based online Radio On, curated & run by Rinus van Alebeek and Adrian Shephard, this February month of 2019. Due to timezone differences, the precise dates and hours that you can listen will vary from place to place, but the next two TGC-streams are programmed to start, in European time, Wednesday February 13th at 4am, and then again on Monday February 18th at 6pm ... Check Radio On's schedule for your local times!
The ongoing massive digitisation and cloud-i-fication has meanwhile made magnetic audio tape near to obsolete, at least as an everyday household thing on a par with toilet paper and tissues. Hence the once ubiquitous tape trash all but disappeared from our cityscapes. It is the reason why since 2012 the number of my tape trash finds has been near to exponentially decreasing I still find them though, occasionally, and continue the collection. In the near future I will extend the TGC with the about 60, 70 finds that I picked up between 2011 and now. Just you wait and see…
TGC on Radio On: http://www.radio-on-berlin.com/?p=9009
Found Tapes Exhibition site: http://foundtapes.soundblog.net
Read more: http://harsmedia.com/SoundBlog/Archief/00844.php
Harold Schellinx aka Har$ has been speculatively exploring some of the less trodden paths in music, writing, mathematics and other arts, ever since his seminal stirrings within the experimental post-punk DIY / ULTRA scene in the Amsterdam of the late 1970s/early 1980s .