A record without prior acoustic information
performance, 2020

“I have suggested to change the gramophone from a reproductive instrument to a productive one, so that on a record without prior acoustic information, the acoustic information, the acoustic phenomenon itself originates by engraving the necessary Ritchriftreihen (etched grooves).” [1]
In 1923, Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy made the above proposal to produce a record without inputting acoustic information. At the time, it was simply a provocative idea. Nine decades later, the idea of “a record without prior acoustic information” can be realized on several materials, including paper, wood, and lacquer plates, owing to mature vinyl audio recording technology and current personal fabrication tools [2][3]. This performance was a part of DIY Music on a Desktop (bit.ly/346JGFY), a spin-off of the DIY music festival Maker Faire Tokyo / Kyoto, where the world was changing due to COVID-19. With a precondition of the event, where the stage was shared with a desk at home (a desktop), I physically produced the music from my desktop in real time as a musical experience in this time period. In the performance, a waveform drawn as a vector image on a computer screen is engraved as a groove directly on the surface of the paper by a cutting plotter to generate sounds of arbitrary frequencies without recording on a common record player.

The work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers JP17H04772, and JP19K21615.

[1] László Moholy-Nagy. (1923/1989) New Plasticism in Music. Possibilities of the Gramophone. In Broken Music: Artists’ Recordworks, Ursula Block and Michael Glasmeier (Eds.). Berliner Kunstlerprogramm des Daad and gelbe Musik, Berlin, Germany, 53-58.
[2] Jo, K. (2014) The Role of Mechanical Reproduction in (What Was Formerly Known as) the Record in the Age of Personal Fabrication, Leonardo Music Journal, Vol.24, pp.65-67, MIT press.
[3] Jo, K.(2018) Au Clair de La Lune on Gramophone “For Édouard-Léon Scott and László Moholy-Nagy” (1860/1923/2015). Proc. of the Twelfth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction. ACM, New York, 2018, 517–520.

Kazuhiro Jo (JP)

Kazuhiro Jo is a practitioner with a background in acoustics and interaction design. He has been presenting his practices in a form of works of art as at museums and festivals, as well as papers at international journals and conferences with his projects such as “The SINE WAVE ORCHESTRA” with Ken Furudate, Daisuke Ishida, and Mizuki Noguchi as a practice of the music one participates in, “phono/graph” with Hiroyoshi Suzuki, intext, Lyota Yagi, nicole schmid, softpad, and Yukio Fujimoto to explore the field of sound, letters, and graphics with artistic practices, and “life in the groove” with Paul Demarinis as an attempt to re-examine the material and historical basis of sound reproduction. After working at IBM Japan, Newcastle University, Tokyo University of the Arts, and IAMAS, he took up his position as an associate professor in Department of Acoustic Design at Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan as well as an advisor (part-time) at Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM].

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