My recent work has involved making objects that use ‘technologies of their time’ in order to reflect on questions of memory, nostalgia and the gaps in collective histories. This has sometimes involved recording a sound or image digitally and ‘translating’ it into an analogue technology. (I know I’m treading all kinds of fine lines here).

Typically this gives the recorded image or sound a much more ‘thing’-like’ quality: unreliable memories, expressions and conversations suddenly become more solid and weighty. Vinyl acetates, 35mm slide film, magnetic VHS tape – all these technolgies are thrown into a kind of sculptural relief when imagined alongside the floating ephemera of mp3s, tiffs and jpegs.

Maybe even more interesting than the ‘things’ that have been produced are the people this process has brought me into contact with.

Tina and Werner are from Germany. They are sound engineers and make one-off vinyl records. ‘Nothing is beyond the audible range of Tina’s ears – she can hear the bats communicating – that’s about 22kHZ!’

Aidan is a guy from Dublin, who amongst other things, carved me a piece of 10″ vinyl on a specially designed lathe. A lathe. I saw it and it is a really beautiful thing. (Tina and Werner use a lathe too of course but I didn’t get to see it).

Julien is a French guy living in Galway who is in the know when it comes to super 8 film. He sells all kinds of super 8 camera euipment and is really knowledgeable and helpful.

Often there is a peculiar kind of camaraderie involved in these endeavours and the particular communities of interest they generate and support. Typically sourced over the net or through word of mouth, many of these people could be imagined as contemporary artisans, or cultural custodians of a kind (or imagine themselves that way). I’m not necessarily anti-digital at all, and there are a million advantages to digital media, but the appeal of crackle-and-pop analogue technology is very powerful too.

 

I’m leaving the final words on this subject to Tacita Dean for the moment –

I realise that I do not know what analogue means. I flounder about trying to find a definition. Analogue, it seems, is a description – a description, in fact, of all things I hold dear… Thinking becomes analogue when it is materialised into a concrete form; when it is transmuted into lines on paper or marks on a board…

I should not eschew the digital world… but for me, it just does not have the means to create poetry; it neither breathes nor wobbles, but tidies up our society, correcting it and then leaves no trace. I wonder if this is because it is not borne of the physical world, but is impenetrable and intangible.

(Tacita Dean, Hugh Lane Gallery, 2007, p. 42. Image: Tacita Dean, Foley Artist, 1996. Image held here)

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