Once upon a time, Romantics dreamt of ruined architecture, rubble and stones on hillsides and whatnot. Today, we imagine ruined technology as our artifacts of culture lost. We don’t need a burning library of Alexandria. We can wait until our machines go out of warranty and go kaput.
That subconscious seems to flow in the literally-murky pool of “Submerged Turntables,” an art installation by Evan Holm. But the results are oddly beautiful, making the physical quality of the record enduring.
And here’s the upbeat bit: in those dark waters, the record still plays.
Evan calls the result a performance: the DJ as ark, saving music in the flood. He writes:
There will be a time when all tracings of human culture will dissolve back into the soil under the slow crush of the unfolding universe. The pool, black and depthless, represents loss, represents mystery and represents the collective subconscious of the human race. By placing these records underneath the dark and obscure surface of the pool, I am enacting a small moment of remorse towards this loss. In the end however this is an optimistic sculpture, for just after that moment of submergence; tone, melody and ultimately song is pulled back out of the pool, past the veil of the subconscious, out from under the crush of time, and back into a living and breathing realm. When I perform with this sculpture, I am honoring and celebrating all the musicians, all the artists that have helped to build our human culture.
Oh yeah, and then it all lives in a tree.
I give a talk in Ravensburg, Germany, next week, addressing this thorny and vague matter of “post-digital” – which is to say, really to do with how we cope in the age of digital overabundance.
This being CDM, of course, we care about the process as well as result. So how did he make those tables work submerged? And – how do you get a tree on a truck? A video for SFMOMA explains:
Note the custom apparatus for the turntables – and the faces as the machine floods.
It occurs, looking through the site, that part of what online digital video does for installations is to make a narrative of the process of making. See Holm’s elegant Transistor Hive kinetic sculpture, which clearly frames the turntables as kinetic art.
In the earlier Crystal Turntables, salvaged turntables become encoding machines. Sound from the speaker tweeters paints calligraphic doodles on long scrolls of paper, seismological ink stories of the sound that passed through them.
In his Gallery, Holm turns prints made by broken records into fossil-like images:
Below, from top: a wall of “fossils,” a record “ghost”:
It seems beautiful, transcendent work. Holm is a California-based artist.
Request: a submerged synthesizer? (Maybe an ARP Odyssey?)