The Auditory Palimpsest

Wednesday 25 January 2017, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Dr Aleksander Kolkowski (British Library Sound Archive)

I will discuss my own recent work in this field, with an emphasis on the wax cylinder as a medium of choice, as well as practices in the visual arts, experimental film and photography, with examples by Robert Rauschenberg, John Latham, Bill Morrison and Alison Rossiter. References to Freud’s “Mystic Writing Pad”, Gombrich’s observations on speech and memory, Zielinski’s “Deep Time of the Media” and traces of Derrida constitute the literary substrates.

This seminar will examine how a physical sound recording medium may be intentionally transformed into an auditory palimpsest containing multiple traces of sounds. The process described and demonstrated uses concepts of erasure, sous rature, remembrance and decay as the basis for sound compositions that are recorded, partially erased then re-recorded or superimposed onto wax cylinders, disc records or magnetic tape and also onto non-audio media such as exposed radiographic film. 

Aleksander Kolkowski is a composer and violinist who uses historical sound recording and reproduction apparatus and obsolete media to make contemporary mechanical-acoustic music. His numerous international projects in this field have combined wax cylinder phonographs, gramophones and vintage disc recording machines together with live musicians. Since obtaining a PhD at Brunel University in 2012, he has been active as the first sound artist-in-resident appointed at the Science Museum, London, and held research associateships at the Royal College of Music and the Science Museum. He is currently composer-in-residence at the British Library Sound Archive.


Location: Sally Baldwin D Block D003