Sounds of the city

Herbert Distel’s The Museum of Drawers, 1970–1977 is perhaps one of the most prescient works of art of the pre-digital era. From MoMA: ‘Herbert Distel adopted the role of the museum curator when he invited artists from around the world to contribute miniature works for display in the tiny “galleries” of his Museum of Drawers. The drawers in this found cabinet are filled with five hundred works by a wide range of artists, some well known, like Picasso, others obscure, creating a comprehensive survey of artistic currents in the 1960s and 1970s.’ This so-called ‘smallest museum‘ is akin to a traditional wunderkammer‘, spliced with the very digital concept of the thumbnail (a term which obviously pre-dates the arrival of computers. Distel is pre-empting all sorts of esoteric modern projects, from Bill Gates’ virtual gallery wall (presumably obsolete within weeks of its installation) to tumblr’s archive view or the image browser on a smart phone. Everything condensed and portable, squashed into as small a space as possible, still legible, yet also lost in transition.


Musicity, a project by Jump Studios, inviting musicians to ‘compose original music in response to an aspect of the city that inspires them.’ Somehow reminscent of Atlas Magazine, a long forgotten analogue foray into unusual travelogues, with an emphasis on found sounds and objects. Issue 4 had a CD, excerpts from which can be heard at Jake Tilson’s website. Tilson oversaw the Atlas project, one of many publishing and audio experiments on his website (the magazine is still available to buy here). In the pre-digital era, found sounds were exactly that – physical objects that had to be discovered and deciphered in order to hear what they contained. Now sound is also subject to the Thumbnail Effect described above; you can find sounds, or simply browse through sites like the Recorded Sound Reference Center or the BM’s Accents and Dialects Map or Noise Jockey, ‘A multi-disciplinary designer’s journey in field recording, sound design, sound effects, and music’ to find things that would hitherto be out of reach.


Discover how a secret drawer works / cesar reyes, a tumblr / are2, a tumblr / the Memory Index, a tumblr / Scribure, a tumblr / photographs by Todd Hido, including the creepily atmospheric ‘Homes at Night’ series / curious Mercedes concept, splicing Lamborghini genes with MB’s / more Mercedes: Escape the Map, a quasi-interactive advertisement that takes the Google Earth aesthetic and mixes it with Inception / ‘This site is dedicated to the era of silver finish Pioneer stereo components‘.

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2 Responses to Sounds of the city

  1. Pingback: the foxtrot « the girl works

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