Storage Wars was born out of the dilemma that many digital artists face; that is, the need to archive vast amounts of audio and visual material in the digital domain and whether to preserve material or not. At the moment I’m squirreling away too much detailed material, so this project was designed to bring to fruition the material from my archives that was spewing out of at least six hard drives begging to be shaped. I decided to make new works from this huge resource and delete every unused file that didn’t make the hour-long broadcast, for ever.
It’s been refreshing and exciting. There’s absolutely no agenda in the finished work. It’s skittish and it’s unpredictable. Voices, blips, beeps and buzzes, Steve Reich experiments and ubiquitous birdsong fight for space in a broadcast that takes it’s own B-roads as Autobahns. Anyway, archiving is a mixed bag. Surely it’s better to properly tag, sort and index a few files for posterity than to save, for example, every variation on a creaking door I lovingly recorded. I can’t deal with the hours that kind of archiving demands - and besides, I’ve been doing much more ephemeral work on wind up gramophone players with shellac records that are very fragile. I’d like to talk about the shellac for a second…(a B-road).
In 2015 I was commissioned by The Dark Outside project in Galloway Forest Park to make a piece with five wind up gramophones all playing shellac discs. Fast-forward to 2016 and I re-open the record boxes for the first time since the performance. Around 90% of the records had shattered. The box must have been knocked without my realising. The performance was only marginally documented and there was a kind of relief with this loss of the source material, despite my searching for some of the titles over a 12 month period. Surprisingly I felt no remorse for the loss of the records. In fact, a little relief descended.
In 2014, Glasgow’s Broken20 records released a huge 8GB USB stick in an edition of 100 with nearly all my sound art and music releases on it, alongside some HD films. Once this was released, I deliberately deleted around four terabytes of material that was connected with those files. I kept only the copies of the master AIFF files and HD versions of the films.
My point is, and it’s not a particularly original one – is that loss can be liberating.
That loss becomes STORAGE WARS. When this material that makes up the 60 minutes of broadcast for Radiophrenia is aired, I will delete all the files that led up to every track except the master that made the work possible.
All of me telling you this doesn’t make for a ground-breaking bit of copy, nor is it a particularly original project, but I hope I’ve made an eclectic and enjoyable hour of material for your delectation. I wanted to make a piece that reflected the variety of zeros and ones on all of my hard drives and wipe them clean for new projects.
Storage Wars - Running Time 60:00 minutes
0:00 Four Consecutive Beats On The Bells (with Ian Fyfe)
0:08 Shaken (with Joe Madden)
2:47 Edinburgh 74%
7:36 The Tanar Gate
9:43 The Barn Door
11:55 The Storm
12:55 The Piano Storm
20:00 The Howl
22:20 Go To A Star – Static Works
32:34 The Butterfly (with Mary Florence)
37:51 Male Voice Choir Found in a Dustbin
40:48 Na’ Karve it N’yil (with Karine Polwart)
52:28 Daisy Park Dawn Chorus
59:40 Thirty Four Year Old Ferric (with Alex Norris)
Chris Dooks, 01.08.16, Edinburgh
released September 18, 2016
Ian Fyfe, Joe Madden, Mary Florence (RIP), Karine Polwart