Blank tape positive
(Contour Editions 2013)
Review by David Vélez
from the liner notes:
‘Blank Tape Positive focuses on the modification of magnetic tape and playback machines as a substantial material for sonic sources. This exploration has been ongoing for many years in Richard Garet’s studio practice by applying extended techniques to magnetic tape and extensively deconstructing the physical playback object, with methods that not only manipulate the natural conditions of the machine, but also its constrained mechanisms. These approaches tackle the playback device as material in itself by turning it inside out, by decontextualizing it, and by mutating the capabilities of its functionality. In due course the magnetic tape is modified, the machine is also modified; subsequently nothing plays properly or does what it was built or designed to do.’
There is something about the physical manipulation of matter that allows for an artist to imprint his emotions into something irreversible, tangible and personal.
There is something poetic about the appropriation and reinterpretation of obsolete objects and devices that helps an artist to materialize his research and instrumental processes into something where he can genuinely project himself.
Today many of the sounds and images that are presented to us establish in some way a material and perceptual bridge to the past, they evoke memories that are loaded with extict experiences and dissapeared things.
Obsolescence gives to things the possibility to be reutilized while exploring unwanted and unnecessarily elements product of the shortcomings of dated technology.
Obsolescence also means imminent disappearance and today there seems to be a great praise of working with rare things of which they aren’t many left and this paradoxically occurs in an actual formal quest for the novelty…
On the late 80’s and early 90’s there was an obsession with the future, an obsession with the XXI century, an obsession with computers and software and the possibilities they offered…
…and now that we are there, that we are in the future, we are interested on things that we can find on junkyards, garage sales, pawnshops or antique shops…
In sound art the contemporary times can present a nostalgic approach, an interest in dated processes and media that when brought back acquire a complete new meaning.
The future is now the archeology of our memories.
The thoughts presented in the previous chapter came to my mind while listening to ‘Blank tape positive’ and reading its liner notes.
‘Blank tape positive’ illustrates in its final result this media and material exploration of the obsolete. The textures, the volumes, the reverberations, the rhythmic patterns…they present a nostalgic character that gives to this work a strong aesthetic value.
Here process and result go hand-in-hand as a way to achieve formal success. Here the exploration of history and archeology of media and the subsequent personal appropriation pays off, offering to the listener an incredible experience full of signification and profound emotional content.
But of course, there is substance behind the surface; on ‘Blank tape positive’ Garet also does a great job when it comes to construct emotional structures and formally work with tension and expectations, keeping the listener attentive and immersed throughout the entire release.
‘Blank tape positive’ joins ‘L’avenir’ and ‘Silver’ as the works of Garet that have left the bigger impression on me in terms of my sensible experience.
[Richard Garet; photo courtesy of Mandragoras Space]