The aural and the visual are often seen as complimentary. We encounter them both almost every day. We watch films and get caught up in their soundtracks. We listen to records and see their iconic covers. Records bring the aural and the visual together quite harmoniously. There is little jostling for space. We almost take their relationship for granted.
We own records, of the twelve, ten and seven inch varieties. CDs too. They are a form to be appreciated — the bigger the better — but there is little need to revere them. The least revered of records are the bargain bin compilations. Our most treasured are the compilations we put together ourselves. There is an interesting void between the two.
My inspiration comes from a life-long hobby of making mixtapes as a reflective record of time and experience, and taking photographs to record day-to-day experiences as they happen. There is an interesting void between these practices too. A project begins with a collection of experiences that can be remixed so that they form the basis of a new experience.
Mixing is now an artform all of its own. Aurally, this speaks for itself. Technically, there is a purist spectrum of cross-fading to beat-matching. For argument’s sake, let us reduce it to curating sound. We curate photographs too and we are starting to treat photographs in similar ways. Remixing photobooks has started to gain a following. Photographers are starting to catch up, but still they do not experiment with the revered.
To mix is now to blend seamlessly. Hail to the beat-matcher! Hail to the Photoshopper! Do you scratch your records when you mix like the early pioneers who had respect for the breaks rather than the objects? Do you scratch your negatives when you print? There is too much reverence for the object in photographic circles. How can we consider photography to be a modern medium but condemn Mishka Henner for blasphemy?
Demix and move to a higher plane. Hail to the thief! Hail to the sampler! Refer, don’t revere. To mix is to bring separate elements together to form a solid whole. To remix is to mix again and create a different whole. To demix is to remove the illusion of the whole, acknowledge the counterpoints and the idiosyncrasies and the independence of forms smashed together.
My practice does not give tribute to records or mixtapes but they are an important point of reference. They explore the aural and the visual from the listener’s perspective of a record and its artwork and how personal experiences can surround and envelop such an object. However, the object itself is no longer tangible: it has exploded and imploded; smashed as if in the Hadron collider.
We can now scavenge through the debris for those elements of the aural and visual that we feel with the most intensity. Smash them again and again. There is no scientific pursuit or elusive God particle. What the fragments mean is not important so long as we allow ourselves to know them and feel them. Contexts are shifted, expanded, ignored, renewed generously. We allow for new ideas, experiences and places to emerge. We deconstruct our ideas of the aural, the visual and the audio-visual. We take these fractured elements to the very limits of their potential.
If something isn’t broken, try breaking it.