Buncefield Soundsystem


Brown, A (2015). Buncefield Soundsystem. The Photographer's Gallery, London 24 - 24 Oct 2015
CreatorsBrown, A

The performance 'Buncefield Soundsystem' was commissioned by the Photographers’ Gallery, London, as part of an event on October 4th 2015 celebrating 25 years of Adobe Photoshop. In this live performance, photographic images stored as data on analogue media (vinyl discs) were played as a form of ‘noise music’ in which the audience listened to the sound of data transfer while they watched the images ‘download’ in real time, with live audio glitch effects produced by manual manipulation of the decks. The work was preceded by a public workshop in which Adam Brown demonstrated the code, hardware and processes involved, allowing participants to convert their own photographs to audio and record them to audio tape.

Keywordsphotography; data storage; performance art; digital culture
Web address (URL)https://buncefieldrecords.wordpress.com/2015/10/
Additional information

The ‘Buncefield’ project is based on reviving deprecated practices of data storage on vinyl discs and tape as an ironic commentary on the current fetishization of analogue media, and an educational demonstration of archival storage techniques. Adam Brown wrote custom code to encode images to audio, and decode these audio files back to images in real time. In a collaboration with Bristol-based vinyl dubplate-cutting company Dub Studio, techniques were invented to cut these files to disc. These discs are played at events in which an audience listens to the sound of data storage as if it were music. The project is intended as a performative comment on the impermanence of digital media and memory, informed by Rosa Menkman’s work on glitch images, Vilem Flusser’s notion of the ‘black box,’ and the image encoding methods used in the Voyager space programme of 1977. Resisting digital determinism, the Buncefield project attempts to subvert preconceptions of innovation and obsolescence.

The public workshop preceding the event stimulated conversations with audience members, including many younger attendees who learned about the history of data storage and the origins of digital photography. The audience at the evening event responded positively to the performance, with some ‘dancing’ to the sound of data transfer, and questions from the floor. The work is a continuation of a project which has seen commissioned outcomes at the Bristol Festival of Photography (in May 2014), Doomed Gallery, Dalston (2015) and demonstrations by invitation by London Alternative Photography Collective. The collaboration with Dub Studio founder Henry Bainbridge led to the innovation of techniques for cutting square waves to vinyl by customising a lathe, techniques which were demonstrated at Bristol Festival of Photography.

The event led to a commission for a further installation by the experimental book publishing platform Punto de Fuga at Paris Photo 2015. The techniques developed formed the basis for a series of ongoing projects concerning translation and image storage.

Publication process dates
Deposited22 Jun 2018
Publication dates
Print16 Mar 2018
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