The Edwardian Cloakroom
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Sunday, November 2, 2014
South West England
Riccardo Carbone

Original Copy
John Strutton in collaboration with Riccardo Carbone
The term “Original Copy” can be an oxymoron. It can also be a value judgement or an indicator of an asset’s hierarchical rank or historical consignment within a process of continual reissue and reproduction. “Copy” can describe an act of faithful transcription, exact mechanical replication or deceitful facsimile. “Original” can be an act of innovation, the first off the production line, the point which marks a series’ ever decreasing valuation or the alpha and omega of a story. Maybe “Original Copy” is all of these?
The 7inch, 45rpm single was for many years most people’s introduction to a life of record collecting. The fact that it was cheap, and usually one of the better tracks from the more expensive LP, meant that most collections begin, and perhaps end, with the contents of a small black box. Some offer consistency and commitment to a particular genre or fashionable persuasion. Most give evidence to the fickle and fleeting allegiance of youth. Laid out on the floor they form a cosmology of listening, looking, loving and loosing.
Unlike the CD or Digital file the source of sound production is brought about by physical contact. An early interpretation of the idea of archaeoacoustics was that it explored acoustic phenomena encoded in ancient artefacts. For instance, the idea that a pot or vase could be “read” like a gramophone record or phonograph cylinder for messages from the past, sounds encoded into the turning clay as the pot was thrown. The content of the 7” single is inextricably linked to the object form of the vinyl disk and its repetitive, concentric movement. The mechanical process is right in front of us. The imprint and trace of the analogue encryption is clearly defined in the grooves and trammels of the records surface. The point of contact between the stylus and the black etched surface is clear and easy to follow. Minimal input, through a process of amplification, registers maximum output. A pinhead of contact creates a head full of sound.
But these surfaces are vulnerable. Their integrity is not guaranteed. A scratch can create an unintentional loop. “Hit me with your rhythm stick, hit me, hit me, hit me, hit me”. The electro magnetic induction of the cartridge is, some say, susceptible to otherworldly transmissions known as EVP (electronic voice phenomena), and the RPM is constantly threatened by power surges on the mains or spring fatigue in old windup gramophones. Consistency gives way to a unique and uncontrollable reinterpretation of the information contained within. Each record embodies its relationship with its owner and the conditions they expose it to. The contract between the collector and the collected is based on this continued contact and use. The copy becomes an original distinct from its origin. “The” song becomes “your” song of which you own an original copy.
Original Copy is an ongoing project that uses an old windup gramophone as a drawing machine. The original tone-arm has been modified so that the stylus is extended through the cartridge of an ink pen. Paper is placed on the turntable and the pen is lowered onto the revolving sheet, in much the same way as the stylus would on a record, and draws a perfect set of concentric circles, whilst the response of the stylus to the movement of the pen can be recorded directly through the tone reflector. The project has taken the form of drawing installation, video and audio works as well as live performance in which sounds are sampled and mixed from the gramophone as the drawings are made. For the sound elements of the project Strutton has been collaborating with musician and sound engineer Riccardo Carbone who is also a fellow band mate in Strutton’s group “Arthur Brick”.