Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Nagging Vinyl Record Question Is Answered By Art

I have a very simple mind.  None of the complex questions nag at my mind for very long.  For me, thoughts about string theory stop at "how come that line of mucus and saliva is so strong that it so rigidly hangs there after you spit your toothpaste - you can't shake it off, you either have to hunch until gravity pulls it down all the way, or wipe with your finger."

See, simple mind.

So when I came across the brochure for the Miami Art Museum's exhibit "The Record: Contemporary Art And Vinyl" (pdf), I first thought, "Did I brush my teeth this morning?" After dealing with a more difficult application of string theory, I sat back down at my monitor and read the brochure, and there in all it's glory was an answer to a question that had been nagging me since I started buying large loads of records.

That question has always been that in the character of any large load of records there are pristine specimens, and then there is the vast sea of ones about which I ask, "When the hell did these records get trashed so badly". 

And there, in the brochure, in a photograph titled "Je Suis Fan des Disques, 3 Nov. 1973 (I Am Crazy for Records)" was an answer, of sorts, or a least a time stamp.  A larger and cleaner version of the above photo appears in the brochure.  The picture dates from a series of portraits shot in Mali in 1973.  In this one particular photograph, 45 rpm records hang on a coat rack.  The records are beat to hell, as bad as some in a load I bought last week.  So if records got that way in their own time of circa 1973, what happens to them for the next forty years until they end up in my warehouse?  Answering one question brings on another question . . .

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