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Eye of the Needle: Sound and Vision 2018. Miniature wireless video camera attached to record player tone arm, live projection


Exhibited as part of Journeys with The Wasteland with the Turner Contemporary Gallery and made in response to the poem by T. S.Eliot. The work explores Eliot's relationship with the mechanical sound recording of the gramophone, making particular reference to its role in The Waste Land in providing the machine mediated sound track of modernity. 78-rpm records, made of shellac and pulverized slate, give something of them selves (dust) in order to release their sound, thus changing the landscape of the record with each play.

For Eye of the needle a miniature video camera was attached to the tone arm of a record player playing a 45rpm single on repeat, and the live video projected into the space. The viewer accompanies the needle on its journey across the landscape of the 1978 single Sound & Vision by David Bowie. Focused beams of LED light directed at the record reveal the rotating surface not to be flat, but an undulating ever changing landscape, across which the needle traverses in a constant bid to reach the centre, only to be sent back to the start again once reached. The record player’s repeat function inducing a semi trance state similar to the clerk and the typist’s mechanical detached coupling to the sound of the gramophone in The Fire Sermon

“She smoothes her hair with automatic hand, and puts a record on the gramophone.” The Waste Land, 254-56

The role of the needle is considered in first embedding sound, through creating the grooves of the record, and then as a “rider “travelling across the surface landscape of the disc as it repeatedly plays, eventually reducing the record to dust.

In December, helped by the wind, sand escapes the beach and enters the town in a bid to reach the centre, only to be swept up and returned. Like a gramophone needle constantly journeying to the turntable spindle only to be sent back to the start again.

Extract from piece written by TM for the Promenade newspaper that accompanied the exhibition at the Turner Contemporary

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