In this digital age of hard-drive storage and streaming, music collections may be vast, but they are arguably less tactile and more sterile than loving accumulations of vinyl. As a result, there’s a renewed appetite for records – not just among the nostalgic but also the artistic avant garde.
And so to American-born multimedia artist Christian Marclay, whose forthcoming show at White Cube, Bermondsey, will feature a working vinyl press devised in collaboration with limited-edition-music guru and arts platform The Vinyl Factory, with the resulting records available for art lovers to buy.
Marclay has been at the forefront of experimental approaches to performance art with a sonic element for more than 30 years. One of his first series, in 1980-86, was a collection of fragmented and reassembled vinyl, Recycled Records, and his disruptive practice with turntables around that time was described as an “unwitting” precursor to today’s DJing. Three decades on and the musical landscape has changed immeasurably, but in this show of entirely new work his preoccupation remains with making physical the complex conceptual relationship between fine-art and audio cultures.
On Saturday and Sunday afternoons over the course of the exhibition, which runs from Wednesday January 28 to Sunday April 12, one of the polished open gallery spaces of White Cube will be transformed into a kind of temporary concert hall. Here, a number of high-profile contemporary composers and the London Sinfonietta will make live recordings of both newly commissioned compositions and improvisation sessions in reaction to Marclay’s visual installations surrounding them.
For the rest of the week, Marclay’s machine will work away to print each performance as an edition of 500 records, and fine-art printmakers Coriander Studio will create unique silk-screen record sleeves to encase them. These will be priced at a modest £25.
For those who would like to catch a live performance in person, it’s best to arrive at the gallery in good time, as admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. As music-collecting experiences go, it certainly beats clicking “download”.
Pictured: Special limited-edition records by Christian Marclay. Pressed by The Vinyl Factory and printed by Coriander Studio. Cover design by Christian Marclay 2015.