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    strategies of accretion I

    Sorry about the lack of regular posting over the past week; I've been busy with a guest in town and also finishing up a Number None submission for the Belgian Sloow Tapes cassette-only label. (More on that in a future post.)

    In my "spare time" I've been thinking a lot about Phoebe Washburn, a maker of massive assemblages who I learned about in an issue of Frieze that CJO recently picked up. Frieze writer James Trainor describes Washburn's process as being a "calculated accretion" of everyday detritus, interesting in and of itself, but the part that really grabbed me is the way that she recycles previous works into new ones.

    In his article, Trainor writes:

    "Washburn is not just a salvager but a recycler of her own work: in 2003 the filleted cardboard from Between Sweet and Low was dismantled, packed up and transported to Rice University in Texas and refolded like cake batter into an even more ambitious four-ton work, True, False, and Slightly Better, which in turn was demolished and carted off to Grinnell College and reconfigured as a massive shingled wall of debris titled Heavy Has Debt, where the dead weight of exhausted, screw-riddled cardboard finally gave up the ghost."

    I'm not a sculptor, but this sort of process feels familiar to me in terms of my music-making. In Number None, practically everything we improvise gets recorded, and before the archival recordings finally get "retired" I spend a lot of time cutting them up into samples or making loops from them, which then get worked into new pieces, which then might get cut up into new samples or loops, which might then be transferred to audiotape and fed live into a performance (which then, of course, gets recorded and added to the archives to be cut up once again). Any piece that Number None might perform live is represents a certain process of digestion and redigestion: it would be interesting to go through and chart the genealogy of bit of sonic cud that we're mashing together, although at this point some of these genealogies are so tangled and gnarly as to render this process functionally impossible.

    Since one thing that's been hugely on my mind this fall is the Big Question of What To Write Next, I've also been musing on whether the strategies of monumental accretion and redigestion couldn't be put to use as a textual strategy: I think I'll save that post, however, for next time. In the meantime, here's a short interview with Washburn for y'all to take a look at, with some nice photos.

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    Thursday, October 27, 2005
    11:09 AM


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