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Listen to tracks from a new Jennifer Walshe related release

July 2017

The Irish composer and conceptual artist conjures up a cassette of lost avant garde music as part of her Aisteach project

Jennifer Walshe has collaborated with philosopher Timothy Morton in the making of Always Arranged But Never Complete: Caoimhín Breathnach’s Golden Cassette.

The cassette is part of Walshe's Aisteach project, which attempts to describe a fictional history of avant garde music in Ireland. The project claims that the eight tracks on The Golden Cassette are by Caoimhin Breathnach, the deceased Irish outsider artist, as described in Morton's sleevenotes. Read an extract from the text below:

“Is it possible to surprise yourself? If it is, it’s possible to send yourself a message as an alien being. You could imagine receiving this message as close to when you sent it as possible. Say you imagine getting it within the time we call the false present – for the most part, we humans experience things that take place within a tenth of a second of one another as simultaneous. Then you would have the eerie phenomenon of reading the message from the future as you composed it. But isn’t that exactly the chemistry of writing a sentence? Any old sentence? Any old musical phrase? And aren’t you then reading, in a way, the meaning of what you’re saying, rather than churning it out? In other words, isn’t having meaning a bit more like joining in with some music, which is what we do when we think we are playing an instrument or not? Whether we think we’re in an audience or not? Whether we make such distinctions or not? Any reading, including performing or conducting or playing, is an interpretation. A cassette of a record that hasn’t arrived yet, sent by aliens, aka the future. (Because the future is nowhere to be found than in things themselves.) Now from this you could forge the mistaken very popular idea that amounts to an off the shelf nihilism. This would be that the cassette is like a photocopy in the sense that the copy is less real, therefore bad: illusory, therefore evil, just to crank the volume on that idea. The realm of the golden record, of futurality, of what things are, their essence, is taken to be more real than this one. You could call my entire intellectual life to be in part a mission against this mistake, which is ever so often number one in the Earth Thought Charts. The copy is flawed; the original is perfect. That’s not true at all. To exist is to have a flaw. So everything is more like the copy. But that doesn’t mean that it’s pointing to anything else – that’s where the analogy breaks down. The copy is uniquely its own thing. Its job is not to make present something more original buried underneath how it appears. It’s always some kind of remix, sample, arrangement, interpretation, of something else. As is that something else to boot. Which is to say, it’s part of a causal realm. Crudely, it’s a thing that resulted from some things being done to some things, that in turn will do other things to things. Take, for example, the profound difference between who you are and who you think you are. It means that every identity is a pseudonym. But it doesn’t mean you, qua your idea of yourself, don’t exist at all. These guys are real. Caoimhín Breathnach, who put this together for example, this golden example of the golden cassette of thinghood as such. He’s a pretty decent chap, if you ask me. Thanks, chap.”

The cassette will be released in a limited edition of 49 copies and it can be purchased at Galway Arts Centre as part of the Galway International Arts Festival or by e-mailing caoimhinaisteach@gmail.com

Read Philip Clark's cover interview with Jennifer Walshe in issue 321 of The Wire. Subscribers can access the full feature via the online archive.

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