Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ken Nicol | A Thousand Times Fuck Off

Ken Nicol
A Thousand Times Fuck Off
Toronto, Canada: Self-published, 2013
12.7 x 14 cm
Audio CD, 47:37
Edition size unknown

An audio performance of the artist typing the phrase "fuck off" a thousand times, a companion to his gridded works of the same name. Housed in a gatefold digipack elegantly designed by Lauren Wickware, and featuring liner notes by curator Christina Ritchie.

The use of the typewriter as a musical instrument can be traced back, I think, to Erik Satie's Parade, from 1917. Typewriters, alongside milk bottles and a fog horn, were used as musical instruments in the score, though these were apparently added by Jean Cocteau, who was directing the ballet for which the music was composed. Satie was reportedly not amused.

However, the typewriter continued as a staple for 20th century composers, and has been used by John Cage, Steve Reich and a slew of others. Pop songs (Down All the Days by the Pogues and Exhuming McCarthy by REM come to mind) have also employed the sound, though mostly as an effect.

I recently read that when making The Shining, Stanley Kubrick recorded a typist typing "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"over and over again, for the scenes in which we see Jack typing, but cannot see the pages. To the trained ear it is thought that each key on a typewriter has a slightly different sound, so in order to maintain authenticity, he insisted that the actual words be typed.

A Thousand Times Fuck Off is available at Art Metropole, here, for $25.00.

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