Time Out New York / Oct 2–8, 2008

Christian Marclay

Anglophile readers of requisite vintage may remember that, long before CDs, Napster and iTunes, British vinyl albums sometimes carried the admonition “Home Taping Is Killing Music.” The line was accompanied by a piratical logo in which the silhouette of a cassette represented a skull, in retrospect portending the demise of a format rather than a practice. The shape returns to haunt a new series of cyanotypes by Christian Marclay that plays on the persistence of antique mediums, specifically as utilized in the direct recording of sight and sound.

Cyanotypes, more commonly known as blueprints, are photographs made by placing objects directly onto light-sensitive paper (they are named for their Prussian blue color). Marclay’s mostly large-scale impressions depict cassettes busted open so that their magnetic guts spill out in a chaotic tangle. He explodes the skeins over the better part of each composition, while the fragmented housings collect at their bottom edges like spent fireworks. They resemble X-rays of Cy Twombly or Jackson Pollock canvasses—or the messy results of a broken fast-forward button.

In an accompanying video, Looking for Love, Marclay pursues the titular four-letter sentiment across a brace of vintage pop platters, skipping the needle from groove to groove in an apparent effort to isolate the word from the context of tune or lyric. The disjointed extracts—neo-primitive echoes of scratches or samples—complement the cyanotypes’ enthusiasm for repurposing vanishing technologies. And in continuing to mine the intersection of seen and heard, Marclay effectively remixes old meanings to produce something new.

Image: Christian Marclay, Untitled (Guns 'N' Roses, Sonic Youth and Two Mix Tapes), 2008