Love Assignment #5: Build Memoryphones

On my radiator at the moment, 2 knitted headphone pouches are blocking in preparation for their assemblage as memoryphones.

I would like to invite some opinion on the nature of the memoryphones.

Knitted from the yarn that Rachael spun out of a much beloved cassette last year at Analogue Amnesty, the memoryphones were initially intended to be ‘headphones’ that gallery-goers could wear in order to block out external noise and remember their own, much beloved mixtapes and attendant sentiments/feelings/nostalgia. Much of my work in Love is Awesome is focussing on our imaginative relationship to sound as much as our physical process of listening.

But since knitting these cosies up, stuffing them and playing with various armatures etc., I am growing insecure and wondering whether or not people will approach the promising knitted earphones made in such a luscious, unusual yarn, and then be dissappointed by the lack of ‘sound’ coming from them and utter dismally ‘Oh, they’re just earmuffs.’

I see myself as having several options really, and am wondering – honestly – what the best way to set up the memoryphones is. Ultimately in the end I have to make a call on how I present the memoryphones myself; but it would be good to gather some opinion first.

The possible arrangements of the memoryphones go like this:

1. The memoryphones are indeed attached to a CD player, upon which is recorded MY recounted memories of the cassette that now comprises the yarn. Listeners ‘listen’ to my memories.

+ side: work fulfils expectations inasmuchas headphones with sound behave as expected and an interesting (hopefully) little story about yarn, Dublin, my former life as a young woman in a strange city etc. are delivered.
– side: work doesn’t in any way deliver the joy of listener’s OWN ability to remember sounds; participation is limited to artist presents work, listener receives work. Boring autobiography. I mean there are many things that are useful to talk about in my own life (disability for instance) but how I listened to Donal Dineen when I was 20 and spent a lot of time wondering around Dublin at night smoking is probably less than useless information for anyone but myself.

2. The memoryphones are set up to be – indeed – silent. A ‘score’ is provided to aid the recovery of sound memories in the listener and questions like ‘what is your favourite mixtape?’ ‘how does the first line of your favourite song on the mixtape go?’ etc. are listed on the score in an appropriate typeface, with a relevant design.

+ side: this supports entirely my basis for making this work; it invites the listener to remember their own mixtapes and doesn’t impose MY memories of sounds upon them.
– side: lack of recorded sound being broadcast by headphones likely to result in disappointment and ‘oh they’re just earphones’ responses.

3. A midpoint solution; the memoryphones are connected to an intermittent recording that includes sections of remembered sounds and recollections about sounds, and space is left in the recording for listeners to recall their ‘own’ sounds.

+ side: this solution fulfils expectations inasmuch as the headphones do indeed produce sound… but there is also space for the listener to remember their own, internal sonic memories.
– side: listeners may get bored with the gaps in the recording.

4. Maybe 1. and 3. combined, so that a score and a recorded ‘guide’ provide a duel route into the work.

+ side: clarity of meaning
– side: bashing audience over the head with my idea about this work and OVERSTATING the idea

Your thoughts will be much appreciated and will help me to resolve in my own mind how best to arrange/present/complete the memoryphones…

4 Responses to Love Assignment #5: Build Memoryphones

  1. Kirsty Hall says:

    If you set up the expectation that they are silent, i.e. with the words, “for listening to the music recorded in your own head” or something similar then I don’t see it being a problem.

  2. colleen says:

    Seems to me that part of what you are proposing to do is to get people into an aural zone – the equalivalent of the cinematic “gaze – so that their memories can come to the surface. I’ve been thinking a bot about silence recently and how you can find it even when it’s noisy, so I don’t think that your option 2 would do that for me, though obviously it will depend on all the other stuff that’s going on. I do like the idea of using the lure of your own memories as a stimulus – and unlike you, I do not think that your autobiographical thoughts would be of no interest. I like hearing someone else’s voice talking to me and I think it might take me into another place, just like the audiobooks do, perhaps, but in this case a door to my own through. So i like the idea of a mix between 1 and 3. I could sense it might work for someone like me.

    Good luck.

  3. Ian says:

    My initial thought was a recorded message when the headphones are put on. Something akin to an answer machine… “please leave a memory after the tone”

  4. Zarah says:

    I llike number 3-the midpoint option.I don`t think your recollections would be boring either! and it would be a good starting point for the viewers to remember own sound memories-already i`m thinking of my late grandmothers laugh and the sound of a boatsfoghorn in north sea…..i didn`t realise there were so many ! (see its working already and i`m not even there….)

    xx

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