W. Mark Sutherland

SCRATCH (1998)

W. Mark Sutherland 1998 an audio - visual installation and a poem/object 300 Signed and Numbered vinyl recordings

The word 'scratch" has been etched into a metal master and vinyl records have then been subsequently pressed from this master. There is no sound on this recording other than that made by the physical text carved into the vinyl. The text is activated when one plays this record. The resulting sound produces a variety of poly-rhythmic clicks.

As an audio visual installation 200 copies of this vinyl recording are scattered across the gallery floor. The physicality of the text/process is reiterated in 1) the foot steps of the viewer as they walk on the vinyl records further scratching the recordings and 2) in the sound their foot steps produce on the vinyl.

As a sound poem/object 'SCRATCH" is an isomerism whereby both the physical and aural experience/event are combined in one form and process. John Cage's "4.33" (four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence) can be considered an antecedent to this piece.

In a broader cultural context "SCRATCH" utilizes anachronistic technology as means of exposing economic excess (waste products), while on the other hand supporting McLuhan's dictate that "obsolete technologies eventually become forms of art". The word "SCRATCH" is likewise a jazz musician's slang for money, the installation (poem/object) therefore implies that music making is no longer an art form but a means of making money. On a more contemporary note "SCRATCH" also acknowledges North American musical sub-cultures such as rap and urban beat where DJ's scratch and sample (recycle) popular music to create new sounds.

Sutherland interviews Bob Cobbing in UbuWeb Papers