The IMAnarchiv invites visitors to explore, listen, envision, make connections, discard, and reinscribe. In the fitting words of Siegfried Zielinski: it is a dynamic search that delights in the gift of true surprise.
The concept of the IMA Sound Gallery exhibition is not forgetting to save but saving in order to forget. The Polypalimpsestinator I und II by the artist collective Alberto de Campo / Hannes Hoelzl / Alessandra Leone and the Memory Canon by Elisabeth Schimana focus on the theme of the cultural memory of recording media and the transitoriness inscribed in them.
Polypalimpsestinator I, II
For my birthday I got a humidifier and a de-humidifier…I put them in the same room and let them fight it out. Steven Wright
Early sound recording methods, like optical sound-on-film and the grammophone, changed the way humans conceive of sound – for example, ‚live music‘ only exists because of recording, and being able to keep physical memories of the voices of beloved deceased persons was one of the strongest attractions of these machines.
Dualities always suggest the question of what their ‚tertium non datum‘ is, and here, the binary constellation of writing and reading obviously suggest that its missing third is deleting. The two machines presented are the beginning of a series of devices which address this field of complex implications of technological reading and writing, its historical origins and their aura. Technical systems create problems by trying to remember everything forever (cf. recent NSA activities), and here one can take bionic inspiration from living systems which always knew about the power of forgetting.
Polypalimpsestinator I is the first in a series of machines that keep writing and deleting information at the same time. On a phonograph turntable with three moving arms, one arm writes new lines, another erases by drawing negative lines across them, and a third arm reads the resulting visual patterns and audifies them.
A needle cuts grooves into a rotating candle, recording sound; a laser and diode read the sound; a moving tea light heats the candle and gradually erases the recorded grooves. Polypalimpsestinator II is the second in a series of devices that complete the memory cycle by remembering to forget.
The Memory Canon
The individual voices of the canon are recorded on CD, memory cards, floppy disks, HD, magnetic tapes, MD, paper, parchment, vinyl, wax cylinders… and stored on shelves. They are the voices of Hades, eternal and yet frozen in their perishable media.
Spread out in the room various devices – tape machine, CD player, computer, gramophone, MiniDisc player, MP3 player, phonograph, record player – wait for their playable memories, ready to extract their individual voices.
The visitors are the actors who reproduce fragments of this canon in ever new variations and bring together the stored memories with the devices for reading and playing back. It will never be possible to hear this canon in its entirety, its perfect form, its ideal state, because destruction is inscribed in each reading.
Do you hear me?