REMAP, robotic tape access


One interesting category that requires proper analysis is that of the media-art “remake”. How are examples proposed by the historical avant-garde recuperated by today’s practitioners, and when can concepts such as copy, remake, re-appropriation, interpretation or kitsch (in the sense of narcissistic repetition of the status-quo) be useful to our understanding of the contemporary scene? A seminal work by Nam June Paik, Random Access (1963), was a prototype for an interactive composition made by attaching strips of audio tape on a wall. Visitors were then invited to run a tape head over the surface of the wall to read the signals recorded on the tape at their leisure, accessing the magnetically encoded audio information as if reading braille with their finger tips. Signal-to-Noise is a collective that has presented several “remakes” of this historical work, creating first an Analogue Tape Glove (2010), and then a series of installations entitled Sonophore (2011) which reproposed the same form of interaction by embedding a magnetic tape head in a glove fitted with a wireless audio transmitter and distributing tracks of audio tape around the exhibition space for the audience to explore using the glove. REMAP (2014) is the latest work in this series which instead roboticizes this non-linear reading gesture by placing the tape head on an old pen-plotter from the 1980s. The plotter moves the play head over a surface covered with magnetic tape unspooled from audio cassettes. This idiosyncratic marriage of obsolete technologies is then controlled by a user via the touch screen of a tablet device.


REMAP: Roland Electro-Mechanical Audio Plotter from Signal to Noise