Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Jack Goldstein | The Six Minute Drown

Jack Goldstein
The Six Minute Drown
New York City/Los Angeles, USA: Self-published, 1977
45 rpm, 7" single
Edition size unknown

The recent story of the Florida teens who saw a man drowning and instead of helping him, recorded his death on their phones, reminded me of the this 1977 artist's record by Jack Goldstein.

I've only heard it once and it was unclear whether it consisted of a sound effect library recording (like the better known suite of disks, below), or if the audio was something that Goldstein recorded himself. David Salle wrote in 1978 (in an essay published in conjunction with an exhibition at Hallwalls in Buffalo) that "Goldstein needs to make a phony record of a man drowning in order to avoid becoming a real one". The observation takes on a darker meaning after Goldstein's suicide in 2003.

Either way, the record plays on notions of cinema. Without a visual provided, the man's gasping and flailing, coupled with the turbulent sounds of the water, causes the viewer/listener to conjure up an image of their own, and given that few have witnessed an actual drowning, most will draw from cinematic memories.

As the piece continues (the six minutes of the title are spread out over both sides of the 45), the artifice of cinema becomes foregrounded. The listener begins to hear the man's cries as over-acted, and the sounds of water most likely a hand splashing around in a bathtub, either the artist's or one in a professional folio booth.

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