BEST BEFORE

 

 

A plastic bag, a sticker with my name on it and the title: "Best fr" (Best Before), compost with compost worms, reel-to-reel tape with a recording of the sound of the same worms, and also a text recorded on a dictaphone and played back while reading.

Commissioned by NOTAM/Ny Musikk for the Pierre Schaeffer-anniversary in 2010.

 

 

 

Ok, So the starting point for my work is listening to compositions by Schaeffer, while keeping in mind the tape and the tape machine.

 

This is the start.

 

And then I ask myself what I hear and what I see.

 

The first thing is: It seems to me that something here is out of date.

And that is not the sounds, the concrete sounds, but the structure they are in. To me they seem forced into the structure of composition. To the convenience of something recognizable, repeatable, something that at first glance seems meaningful. A uniform for art in sequential time that's been more or less the same since Euripedes. – I use Euripedes as an example, because Schaeffer points at him with the title of his composition Phaedra.

 

All this is typical when artists seek authorization by leaning on institutionalized past. It's retrogarde.

But Schaeffer should be Avantgarde? Technically he was, yes, but the way he shaped his material seems rather retro. Just like most new media art today.

 

But let's forget about this for a second.

 

I was also thinking of the explosive growth of stored information since the 1950's. The tape and the machine as instruments dealing with time, memory and representation. The tape material with the sound material on it. Played back by real machines instead of human orchestra robots.

 

The idea of this is what I think is essential and interesting in Schaeffer's work.

This is what I want to deal with.

 

So I asked myself what I have here, and what material I have that I can use to deal with it.

 

(recording this on tape:)

 

1) I have something that was best before.

 

2) I have Agnes' compost.

 

3) Audio tape looks a bit like the worms in the compost. Specially when it runs through a tape machine without reels.

 

4) The worms in the compost make lots of sound.

 

4) The sound doesn't mean a thing.

 

5) Schaeffer would have become 100.

 

7) What would he hear down there, where he is now?

 

8) If the concrete sound really is so great, why do we have to compose with it?

 

9) (I think I like it better uncomposed)

 

So what have I done?

 

(playing back the recorded tape while continuing:)

 

I've made a composition of compost with worms, a plastic bag, a 28,5m long tape with worm-sound on it and a sticker with my name on it and the title Best before. Someone has to take care of it to keep the worms alive.

 

By doing it like this, I tried to avoid doing something shaped by sequential time, and instead doing something that shapes time. But now I add this speech, which follows this shape and by doing that, I might ruin it all.

 

 

recording: