A public archive of 839 trance and underground LPs.
From 2011–12, Cory Arcangel’s Brooklyn studio archived 839 trance and underground LPs that had been purchased from legendary DJ Joshua Ryan. The AUDMCRS Underground Dance Music Collection of Recorded Sound is a public archive of these LPs, presenting all relevant data (i.e., format, size, speed, generation) on each record with an accompanying image of the album’s cover art. The project underlines the personal obsession often involved with collecting, as well as Arcangel’s own interest in preserving a cultural history that relates to his work and life. “It is said that the music we hear as teenagers is, and will always be, the most important music for the rest of our lives,” said Arcangel. “For me, this music is techno—the cheap, voiceless, machine-age disco that became popular in the clubs of Chicago in the late ’80s and from there quickly spread throughout the globe.”
AUDMCRS consists of two parts: the website, presented through First Look, and the vinyl record collection, which is currently touring. It premiered at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh and is currently on view at the DHC/ART Foundation in Montreal. It will travel to the library of the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art in Denmark in 2014.
Below, New Museum Curator and organizer of First Look Lauren Cornell asks Arcangel a few questions about the project.
Lauren Cornell: This is an incredibly obsessive, time-consuming project. Can you talk about why you wanted to devote yourself so totally to it?
Cory Arcangel: I guess I wanted to treat these records with the utmost respect. You knew me in the ’90s so you know I went through a pretty hard techno/trance phase. This culture means a lot to me and I wanted to portray that. Treating them this way also plays with the discrepancy between the current cultural worth of these records (zero) and the true long-term value of them (unlimited).
LC: How did you hear about DJ Joshua Ryan’s collection and how did you locate him?
CA: I follow the band Tanlines on Twitter and one day they tweeted something like, “if u want 1000+ trance records, DM us.” So I did and they put me in touch with DJ Joshua Ryan (aka Joshua Topolski). Josh was storing his records at Tanlines’s studio, which was relocating so it was a good time for him to hand them off to someone. It’s worth noting that buying a trance record collection lock, stock, and barrel was a daydream that I’d had since I was fifteen.
LC: The website contains all the data for each LP in the collection except for the sound. By putting them online in this form, what are you preserving? What did you want to save or share?
CA: The actual preservation aspect of the project is best embodied by the IRL vinyl record collection. Vinyl is one of the most archival mediums in that it doesn’t deteriorate over time—thus, I didn’t feel the need to digitize the audio. I’m hoping that since the collection is now going to be treated as an “art object” it might give it a good chance of being treated properly in the long run—kind of like appropriation as a form of preservation. And the website I thought of more as an advertisement for the collection as well as an homage to those classic early net “collection” websites. If you remember, back in the day, people used to make beautiful handmade websites of IRL collections: “Welcome to Chrissie’s Beanie Baby Corner,” etc. So in a poetic sense, it’s trying to preserve that kind of thing as well.