Minggu, 19 Desember 2010

Melting ears (on Cory Arcangel's two works)

The one I liked was this:


while the one that goes further is this:


Both are fragments of works by Cory Arcangel.
The difference between them is significant. The first one is a joke - it is a repetition, a trick played on the idea of reproduction or universality.
The other one too. But the other one moves towards something else. It provides us with the doubt as to what it should be like. I don't know Schoenberg's op. 11, 3. I might have heard it, but I'm not sure how it sounds. Yet it certainly doesn't sound like these cats. Or does it? What is it about Schoenberg that makes him sound like Schoenberg? And why do we need him to sound like Schoenberg? (Why do we call artists people who interpret in the most faithful way? And no, this is not a rhetorical question. What is it about repetition that still makes it move us aesthetically? And no, any form of the answer "the difference within the repetition" will not satisfy me as long as I keep putting the same piece on my mp3 player and enjoy it beause it is the same, and still appreciate its freshness, not its "difference".) The thing, here, is not just about the cats, it isn't the old elephant-making-oil-paintings trick. It is rather about other possibilities of listening, of paying attention, of defining what you hear. Can we hear the Schoenberg in the original cat videos? Can we hear Bach in the original music versions? The Bach composition, in that sense, says too much - it states a clear correspondence between the original YouTube videos and Bach's work. The second says less: it says "it is out there, but it's hard to say where exactly, and why exactly we would stop there". (And does it while being damn funny). And that's when our ears melt and reconsolidate, they become other ears, and other, and other. We are forced to listen to what might be there, and not what we think is there.
So why do I like the first video more? Maybe because I still enjoy what is there a lot.
Or because I'm not a fan of Schoeberg.

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