Look at This Perpetual Guitar Machine at the Clocktower Gallery

February 6, 2013 | Marina Galperina

The sound filled the Clocktower Gallery hallway — a thick, thunderous gnaw. Echoing under the blinking lights, a distorted strum… and again, a bit different… and again…

“My name is Indriði and I put up this perpetual machine,” young Icelandic artist Indriði Arnar Ingólfsson
tells ANIMAL in our video interview above. We found Guitar Play in one of the alcove rooms, or rather, followed the sound that could be heard throughout the gallery.

“It’s a tape machine that has a loop of tape that runs through the strings of the guitar, takes the signal from the guitar and records it onto the tape machine, which then reads of the tape and plays through, so it’s constantly deleting and recording over itself,” Indriði demonstrates. “So it records itself with itself on itself with itself…”

The apparatus is elegant, even though it’s part empty pizza box. For leveling purposes, it seems. Strummummm.

Indriði just finished participating in a residency at the Clocktower with the band MUCK. Further in the hallway alcove is another room where his collaborator Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir aka Kría, founding member of múm and Guy Maddin’s composer for the Performa Festival 2011. In a darkened room punctuated by narrow branches made from columns is a glass projection screen. On it, a girl struggles under grainy, grayscale waters, searching frantically for “What do you call it?” “The plug?” “Yes, yes the plug,” Indriði interprets. The two rooms work together.

Back in the Guitar Play alcove, I’m reminded of endless Rube Goldbergs and perpetual motion machines, of Akay’s Complicated Solutions for Simple Acts of Vandalism, of Revital Cohen’s “breathing” closed circuit installation of organ-imitating, “immortal” machinery… This is my all time favorite. There’s something cleansing about it, about the careful bridge between recorded and acoustic media, the balance (NO FEEDBACK!), the ruggedness… the sheer audial permeance.

The sound hummed in the Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s Stranger Visions room, around the 3D printed portraits created from poached DNA samples — the uncanny “Eastern European” from Myrtle, Brooklyn who unwittingly donated a dropped a cigarette butt, the others. The sound filtered into Andrew Haik Demirjian’s Audible Geology project, with the crunchy sonar noise bits of the Grand Canyon, derived from pixels of its digital photographs. You could hear the echoes at the simultaneous receptions of the freshly opened Papo Colo and “Dark Paradise” exhibits. These are the kinds of projects that keep the Clockwork Gallery on the cutting edge, keep luring in the notable guests and keep us coming back.


(Video: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)