After Binatone Galaxy: Stephen Cornford at Campbell Works, London

Artvehicle 59/Review

1B 1200/PBTQ – Accordingly, the galaxy is constituted on a numerical base of two rather than ten. You switch this as you see fit.

2B 8600/WP2Q – The gallery room is soon to close. The last flick of a galaxy arm: a side street in Stoke Newington.

3G 7608/PG2Q – This part of the cosmos assumes the nomination of a company brand, but does not anticipate any binary flutter to come.

4B 7610/PB1QY – It seems the galaxy is drawn through an arrangement of angular machines, strung across two perpendicular surfaces. Certain stars drift toward the ceiling, some becoming more isolated than others. Shelf brackets support the casings.

5B 6000/PA2Q – This array is sprayed each side of a corner – a fold in the universe. The deliberate placement could reveal it as a segment sourced from a larger spiral, perhaps from another galaxy leaking in from the window.

6B 6026/A1QC – The constellations are linked by cables. For this is a galaxy map, with wormholes caught in the lock of male-female connectors. Inverted parabolas link everything up, all part of a power-sharing system that darts through asteroid fields and magnetic straits.

7SE 1400/SSEQ – Still everything must contend with the electric fizz of the nervous system and the heave of the diaphragm. The always-gloopy blood. It’s likely that last listeners have entered the space.

8LE 1400L/LSEQ – As soon as movement is registered the motions begin. The first sounds are not dual but multiple, starting off with a soft dragging chirrup then, after some hidden pinpoint, unloading encoded stops and pauses, small and big bangs.

9B 8701/B2EQ – Already the stars are talking to themselves. All things are given to introspection it seems.

10B 8640/PRB2EQ – Individual points of light are prattling, pressuring the collective. Ignoring the vacuum.

11B 5700/PB3Q – Like the ears, the pupils widen, slowly recognising the galaxy for what it is.

12B 5600/BQQ – It is a series of intermittent blue lights – satellite signals, the last dots of space debris.

13B 5630/B4Q – Or an arrangement of named planetary systems, each a description of worlds light years distant. Titles could indicate atmospheric conditions, report the absence of life or catalogue alien flora and fauna.

14B 8801/PCB4EQ – All this information is relayed by a collection of recording and playback machines. The units vary in dimensions and orientation. Some have built-in speakers and holes over condenser microphones. Each has an oblong tray designed to hold removable cassettes.

15B 7414/B1HC – Still the sound builds. Variations of dust can be picked out in the texture. For every world has its idiosyncrasies and variable speeds. Every star has its metabolism.

16B 8401/PB1HY – These variances might have fed into pure pitch in other circumstances; or must have indicated the flaws in every mechanism. Yet here, in this alternative galaxy, they become the tenor of each system. The grain of the differential accompanies variations in brightness of each of the star-points as they move in the watery wow and flutter of immense distance.

17B 8400/WPB1HY – The sound is both insistent and porous, like that bowed by a windy field of crickets. Every now and then a blurt of feedback is strung out as some star bound component grates and slips, sounding an altogether clearer tone than before, fully resonating through the speaker cones.

18G 3200/PG1H – It’s too easy to hear the industry of an early-morning dock or even the lonely squeaks of a buoy. The general percussion builds and rotates, with creaking rafters that do not sound plastic-bound – only wood seems to be audible, wood fattened by electric current.

19G 3100/G1HY – This is a choir too, not just a galaxy pinned up on the wall. It is a bank of voiceless singers – teeth- grinders – letting the clicks and wheezes of their vocal apparatuses rise to the surface.

20B 2000/PB2H – Moving closer you can watch the details of each world. Inserted into all machines are the identical lenses of transparent cassettes, like layers of spittle covering mouth apertures. These are tracheal implants, somehow

integral to the partial revival of a lost voice, amplifying the speech mechanism once all sonic content has gone silent.

21B 8200/WPB2H – Yet these transparent components are self-similar and factory-calibrated. They have become echo chambers for every mechanism that holds them, like parasites tolerated in the mouth. But what exact differential is imparted between the cassettes and the host units?

22B 9200/PRB2H – This is a technological symbiosis that has been gutted and stripped, refitted with new components. The exchange has demanded that all relations be redefined and that the crucial point of contact be exploded outward.

23C 7521/PC2H – Looking through the cassettes, rigid in their loading bays, you see that they still each contain two spools, this time wrapped with a single loop of tape. This is not inscribable celluloid but a ring of impervious leader, tinted blue, with an unstable grip on the cogwheels. The movement of the loop is disrupted, each skid or hiatus contributing to the complexity of massing rhythmic patterns being transferred from those dozens of closed, singular cavities.

24B 6100/PA2H – The leader is not anchored into the spool. It is looped loosely around it, non-penetrative and self- contained. There is no necessity to splice onto recordable matter.

25B 6126/PA1HC – Instead of a window looking onto a cleavage of tape reels, whose asymmetry would indicate position or remaining duration, there is nothing but a blank, symmetrical stare. And visible innards.

26SE 3600/SMEH – Tight curls of circuitry appear like topographical marks, the wires like gaseous veins. You notice a few resistors and capacitors, an integrated circuit laid on its side. A small monitoring disc, partially coated with translucent gel, lies in a shallow crater.

27SE 2200/SSEH – Two LED bulbs illuminate landing areas each side of the cassette. Every star must possess twin light sources.

28LE 2200L/LSEH – A perforated strip of plastic is suspended between springs, each hooked over the vacant axles once used by tape guides. A metallic head reader is set upon this neck. Here and there, a few beads of solder. A white cable line exiting a corner, passing through write-protect notches. All these entrails must convey the resonance of these cassettes, but must also diminish it.

29B 8301/B2EH –The design has always had a pleasing symmetry to it: those precisely raised surfaces, from the extended rhomboid at the base to the sleek protuberances on both sides, screws fitted into each corner. This is a recognisable format after all. You remember feeling the slight looseness of the plastic spools and the tiny square of foam against which the tape would brace. That odd series of holes that must have fitted into to the corresponding master unit.

30B 9222/PRB2EH – Here the point of contact is made all the more brutal in being visible. Mirrored metal heads butt together like a ring on a fist of capstan fingers and pinch-roller thumbs. All former delicacies are lost when the join no longer need be read through a magnetic ribbon.

31B 9102/PRB1F – But what is it that governs the influence between the larger mechanism and the plastic pillows of air gripped in their teeth? The peculiarities of that relation continue to sound out in the unique discrepancies between mass-produced commodities.

COIL TO UPPER PINS – Remember that the stars are portable, on the verge of being forgotten.

32B 9125/PRB1EF – You have always had your own cast of those shells in mind. You consider the architecture constructed around that internal volume, a space intended to allow transit but now a braced, resonant cavern. The tongue is still clacking inside the skull.

33B 8101/B1EF – Your perspective passes through shared nostalgia and into something else. Moving onto thoughts about the specific configurations of faces on ‘reading’ heads – some kind of machinic equivalent to the contortions of human flesh. What changing grimace would it take to playback, to record or to erase?

34SE 4400/SMEF – And what form of obsolescence would apply to the stars? Even constellations can be collected, made to discuss themselves. If only they were to be filled with resin and turned out.

35B 5800/B2L – These swallowed trays become resonators for the insertions of space that listen to themselves.

36B 5830/BQL – And for a device to listen to itself, when all that remains of its mode of being is the faint trace of transit, it must be left to its own thoughts.

P-BQL – The instruments reveal their hidden music. All such noises run underneath, tapped into here intermittently, scored out at random or adhering to astrological charts.

COILS – Whatever is lost through the cavity walls, bleeding past the guard band, the galaxy continues to mouth, chewing on the future.

PC-BQL – And to exit the room is to allow the galaxy to extinguish itself. 

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David Stent

After Binatone Galaxy: Stephen Cornford at Campbell Works, London —