magnetic audio tape

Exhibited at the 2013 St├Ądelschule Rundgang in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the new magnetic audio tape series ‘pages‘ and ‘magnetophon diary‘ focuses on the historical, diaristic, and indexicality aspects of audio tape and its materiality through print, classic tape reel to reel recorder, and sound performance. The work is also part of an ongoing investigation into modernist painting and works of Ellsworth Kelly, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, and others. The focus of this series is particularly significant and special, in that its origins lie in early German sound technology of the 1920s to 1980s, as well as a regional importance of Hessen, Frankfurt am Main, and Bad Nauheim. The minimal and modernist A4 size black rectangles of the ‘pages‘ series are silk screen printed with a recordable magnetic pigment on paper, utilizing black iron oxide Fe304, in direct reference to the same formula of first iteration and patent of magnetic tape on paper in 1928 by Fritz Pfleumer. These prints, tested and proven, can in fact be recorded into with magnetic tape heads such as those found in various tape machines from studio reel to reel to cassette recorders. In the testing phase, cassette tape size strips were cut and run across the head in ‘record’ mode while speaking phrases, and played back with low yet decipherable fidelity. The ‘magnetophon diary‘ is a late 1960s early 1970s German made UHER reel to reel tape recorder, utilizing a BASF tape reel, dated from 1970s to 1980s, which is no longer manufactured. The regional significance of this series is important, as it was through 1945 post war findings in Bad Nauheim that American audio engineer Jack Mullin was able to recover two WWII German AEG Magnetophon recorders and 50 reels of tape to take back to the United States, thus introducing this never before seen German technology and developing the first American tape manufacturer, Ampex, which found its way into US studio, radio, and home use in later years. My enjoyment of youthful sound experimentation in the 1970s and teenage cassette mix tapes and early portastudio productions of the 1980s is directly linked to where all these years later, I now find myself furthering a practice in sound. It should also be noted that the IG Farben conglomerate, of which BASF was a founding company in 1925, also stood in the historic Hans Poelzig building, which is now the Goethe University Westend Campus in Frankfurt. The third element of this series, is the ‘treppenhaus‘ sound performances taking place once each day of Rundgang. These performances were recorded on the UHER / BASF, thus documenting and archiving a real time performative exhibition sound diary, and played back twice a day later as an ‘echo’ or ‘reverberation’ of a moment in time. The first day was a 25 minute performance, the second day was 25 minutes of silence (25 minutes of sound performed not recorded and replaced with silence), and the third day was 30 minutes of sound performance. These performances were developed using guitar, effects / loop pedal, and tube amplifier. My guest collaborator, Bernhard Schreiner, utilized a computer which was fed a microphone signal taken from my guitar amp, and treated with his processing and signal chain artistry. For me, this series is not only an investigation on various material, historical, and theoretical contexts, but also suitably unifies my various practices to date. Special note of thanks to Dr. Sabine Fabriz, Thomas Dreisoerner, Tony Hunt, and Bernhard Schreiner.