Now available at Phonopolis!

RECORDS, artist’s book with 7″ read-along record soundtrack by Rebecca Mack/DJMothertrucker is available now at Phonopolis in Montréal, Canada!

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Our experiences are ours, and our records outlive us.

Ordinary experiences are the stuff of the living, and they are our raw materials. Use what you have; it’s yours and no one else’s!  A camera, a microphone, a notebook; using these tools, one can record, sift through, and sort the stuff of life, everyday moments, and in so doing heighten awareness of beauty and impermanence in one’s unique string of experiences.  This is what history looks like when it is still breathing: ephemeral, particular, and completely palpable.

When we take up tools to record the sights and sounds of our everyday lives, we become builders of stories and editors of our own experiences.  We use the ordinary circumstances of life to tease out a room, a season, a mood, and in so doing create for ourselves a welcome sense of control over our lives.  This may be a twist of psychology, but practically speaking it is a valuable way to play with the element of freedom that is available to all artists when they take tools in hand.

Cultivating a recording practice is in itself a technique for sharpening awareness of the sensual, tangible qualities of our daily lives, and is compatible with meditation practice.  For me the development of my own mediation and recording practices have been intertwined, each enhancing my awareness of the absolute impermanence of any moment in any human being’s finite existence, mine or another’s.

In shaping one’s own legacy, the taste of time changes in the mouth.  We don’t know how much time we have together, or how the end will come for us, but we can make little love letters to history out of the ephemera in which we swim.   In choosing from the palette of sounds in your home and neighborhood, you take snapshots of living history.  Mixing those pieces together with samples from your collection of tapes, cd’s, records, etc, you deepen the texture of a missive that is truly yours: a time and place in this world occupied by one particular being.  This is your situation, not someone else’s.

 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Our records outlive us.

RECORDS at UVM Special Collections

Big News!

I just returned from an amazing experience, significant in my professional career and thrilling for those of us that adore libraries and library science. I was invited to participate in the cataloging of RECORDS, with Amber Billey at the Bailey Howe Library of the University of Vermont. Amber explained a bit about the coding systems she was using while asking me questions about the work to create both the Authority Record for the Library of Congress and the library catalog which will enable library users and librarians everywhere to find RECORDS in the great sea of information. Thank you, Amber! Amber has just made it much easier for libraries and artist’s book collections to incorporate RECORDS into their collections. Three cheers for librarians! Hiphiphooray! Hiphiphooray! Hiphiphooray!

Seven Days’ Review of RECORDS by Pamela Polston

An Artist Book, With Sound, Invites Readers to Look and Listen Along

State of the Arts

BY PAMELA POLSTON [06.20.12]
  • The word “record” has multiple meanings: As a noun, it’s a written document of facts, relationships or agreements, kept for important legal or sentimental reasons. A record is also an organized collection of sounds — say, the Beatles’ first LP or the latest Radiohead CD. As a verb, record is the act of making one of these things. The word is so versatile that it doesn’t have a good synonym.

Rebecca Mack may or may not have thought through these semantics when she chose the word Records as the title of her new “concept piece,” but its subtitle describes the work plainly: Book and a Special Recording. And there’s no doubt that Mack, a 35-year-old Burlington DJ (Mothertrucker), sound and visual artist, preschool teacher, and mother of 5-year-old twins, paid close attention to every detail of her unusual book — an undertaking that she says took her 10 years to complete.Records is an 8-inch-square, 24-page book on heavy, coated paper, with a 7-inch 45- rpm record tucked inside a sleeve at the end.

Records’ colorful pages are filled with photographs — most taken by Mack — and a snippets of text, handwritten or typed by the author. While there are references to Mack’s own life — such as pictures of her children — her book intentionally lacks a narrative. Each “reader” can have a unique experience depending on how he or she responds to the images — including photos of rooftops in Sicily, the innards of a piano, a pair of bare feet. Many of the pages contain multiple images with no apparent connections. As she does in DJ mode, Mack samples and stitches, evoking myriad reactions to their combinations.

And then there is the soundtrack.

Why the 45 format? “It was my explicit choice to put it on 7-inch vinyl — it’s still the preferred format for a lot of people,” Mack declares. Easy for her to say, being a DJ. Mack, who used to work at Pure Pop Records, says there is a clientele for new vinyl, not just vintage. Potential listeners who have put away their turntables may find looking through these pages engaging enough.

Mack intends, however, for the reader to experience visual and auditory stimuli together, remaining on each spread as long as she instructs — a soft “ding” on the soundtrack signals it’s time to turn the page.

The sounds, taken primarily from her field recordings, are diverse. Mack singing from her own composition, Requiem. A choir in Madurai, India. One of Mack’s twins singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Samples from DJ Mothertrucker. These form an aural tapestry with the nonmusical sounds: a creaking door, squawking seagulls, the repetitive crackle of a needle in the final grooves of an LP. Mack’s musical influences could not be broader: from hip-hop to 12th-century abbess/composer Hildegard of Bingen.

How does she hope people will experience the book? “It’s 10 and a half minutes of reflective time,” Mack suggests. “It’s going to be different for each person — and that’s exactly right.” The interval before each “ding” varies; in this way, Mack forces lookers/listeners to slow down, or perhaps to move along before they’re ready to turn the page. Through the simple act of controlling time, she plays with a theme of evanescence.

Like most handcrafted books, Records is a labor of love that is scarcely compensated by its $20 price. Though Mack is happy to sell copies to individuals, “I want to get it into libraries and artists’ books collections,” she says. She already has some fans at the University of Vermont. “It’s one of the most interesting and engaging pieces of art I’ve seen in a while, and we were inspired to think about programming that would feature Becca and her work,” says Selene Colburn, assistant to the dean of libraries for external relations at UVM. “We were really blown away.”

Mack aims to hold listening parties, to which she’ll bring her turntable and up to six sets of headphones for attendees. “It’s very reminiscent of being a kid, when there were records and books to go with them,” Colburn notes.

Mack herself compares her Records project to the current craze for scrapbooking, another example of the “completely human drive to preserve your experience,” she says. “I have outlined my next 10-year project,” Mack adds, revealing only this: “It will involve sound, turntables and orchestral arrangements.”

“Records: Book and a Special Recording by Rebecca Mack.” Self-published, 24 pages. $20. Mack will release “Records” with a listening party on Friday, June 22, 7 p.m. at Pure Pop in Burlington. recordsbookwithsound.wordpress.com