Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Thursday, 13 March 2008
Have you ever bought music on the Internet? I purchased my first couple of MP3s on the Web last week and it was the most depressing shopping experiment I have ever had. No illustrations or liner notes. Not even a receipt that I could have kept as a souvenir in case my computer would be destroyed by a killer virus. Just a file on my desktop, which name consisted of a series of random letters and numbers. That is not what the whole music industry had promised me. Music purchased on the Internet was supposed to be the future of music: a future where my shelves would not be clogged up with plastic CD boxes anymore, where my favorite song would not systematically be corrupted by scratches, and where I would only listen to the music I like, instead of having to buy those full-length albums in which half the tracks are rubbish. But for me, this future looks like more of a regression.

For Walter Benjamin, the mechanical reproduction of works of art (films, records or photographs) had led to the erasure of their sacred value. Now, the digitalization of such devices leads to a further loss: that of our affective attachment to all these daily objects, vinyl records, CDs and cassettes that used to clog up our shelves. The thrilling sensation of unfolding a new disc and putting it gently on the record player has been replaced by a cold and impersonal click on your mouse. The whole ritual that constituted our listening experience is vanishing as our old musical objects are being replaced by immaterial files. In these dark digital ages, maybe the time has come to sing a happy requiem to our old and beloved records – before we import them all in our iTunes libraries.

Among my memories of childhood, some of the most vivid lie in these countless hours spent in my elder brother’s room, browsing through his huge rock and punk records collection. I was only five or six years old by that time, and I would probably have received a good pair of smacks if I had dared to put any of those black acetate discs on the record player. But however, I was still allowed to watch the covers, and that is how I discovered most of what were to become my favorite bands and artists: by looking at pictures printed on 12-inch cardboard squares. For the middle-class child that I was living in a cozy suburb where the only annoyances where the dogs and pigeons’ droppings that made the streets look like Jackson Pollock paintings, such images were like these exotic names you discover when reading an atlas: sources of dream, curiosity and excitement. At a time when reading a book gave me the most terrible headaches, record covers were like a window wide open to the world, from where I could glance at white rockers and black jazzmen, leather jackets and three-piece suits, sexy girls and freckle-faced kids. They were also a way for me to develop a rather personal culture: before the age of ten I was already able to namedrop a few hundred names of bands whose music I still had not listened to.

I can still remember vividly some particular items of such sulfurous iconography. There were the covers that paralyzed me with fright, like these Motörhead LPs full of skulls and fat bikers. There were also the mysterious ones: this big yellow banana on a Velvet Underground record drawn by a guy called Andy Warhol; or that immaculate disc by P.I.L. with just a dark triangle of hair in the middle. But my favorite covers were definitely these of David Bowie’s records: each of them seemed to portrait a different person. The young guy that still looked like any other folk singer on Space Oddity suddenly became an androgynous character on the front illustration of Aladdin Sane, before turning into a strange creature, half-man half-beast on the Diamond Dogs cover. As a channel for Bowie’s perpetual self-reinvention, these covers conveyed an almost mythological meaning that in many respects exceeded the music itself. Looking at such a rich and extravagant iconography, I think now that my teenage fascination for rock stars was created as much by images as by the music itself.

So whatever the future of music looks like, I will still cherish my good old vinyl records. LPs are not just about music and sound – they also have a smell and a specific touch quality. I guess they also have a taste, although I never tried to eat any of those old plates. But most importantly, they are primarily ritual objects. Here is my problem with computer-purchased music: I’d like to take care of my MP3s, to clean the fingerprints on their surface and to store them in nice comfortable boxes. I also would like to be able to break them, to make scratches on them, to dirty their covers with my graffiti. MP3s make me anxious: they make me fear of a world where objects would have disappeared, where books and records and all sorts of devices would become simple digital artifacts displayed on a screen. I want to have my bookshelves clogged up with things, even the most useless ones. Because objects do not only fill empty spaces on your bookshelves: they are living parts of your memories, they belong to your heart and flesh, they make you feel less lonely when you are alone. When I was a kid, records were my teddy bears.

Thursday, 13 March 2008 23:37


中譯/Nakao Eki


班雅明(Walter Benjamin)認為,影片、錄音或攝影等藝術作品因機械性複製而失去了神聖的價值,而現在這些設備的數位化則導致了未來的一項損失--失去了對於過去塞滿書架的黑膠唱盤、CD、卡帶等所有這些日常物件所抱有的情感。拆封一張新的唱片、小心放上轉盤的刺激感,已被冷硬無情的滑鼠一按所取代。無形體的檔案取代了我們的老音樂物件,構成聆聽經驗的整個儀式於是隨之消失殆盡。在這黑暗的數位年代裡,大概只有時間向我們摯愛的老唱片快樂地唱起安魂曲--然後我們便將這些音樂全數收進了iTunes檔案櫃裡。

在我哥哥的房間裡瀏覽他那超大搖滾樂收藏的無數個小時,是我印象最為鮮明的童年記憶。當時我只有五、六歲大,因為竟然膽敢伸手去動轉盤上的黑膠唱片,大概已經挨過了好幾個巴掌,不過我還是獲准觀看唱片封套。日後我最喜愛的樂團和樂手,泰半都是這樣單靠著觀看12吋方形封套上的圖片而發掘得來。我是個中產階級的小孩,住在宜人的市郊,此地唯一擾人之處就是狗和鴿子糞,搞得整條街好像波洛(Jackson Pollock)的畫一般,這些景象就好像讀地圖時所發現的那些異國風地名,是夢想、好奇心和興奮感的來源。在閱讀讓我最感頭痛的那段時間裡,唱片封套就彷彿通往另一個世界的敞開大門,我由此窺見白人搖滾歌手和黑人爵士樂手、皮外套和三件式西裝、性感美眉和雀斑臉小鬼。我也藉此發展起一種頗具個人風格的文化--還不到十歲,我就已經可以用數百個樂團的名字來唬人,其實我連他們的音樂都還沒聽過。

我還清楚記得某些特定的東西,例如地獄景象般的圖片。有些唱片封套把我嚇得半死,如機器首領(Motorhead)那滿是骷髏和肥仔機車騎士的LP。也有謎樣的唱片封套,像地下絲絨(Velvet Underground)的唱片上由叫做安迪沃荷(Andy Warhol)的傢伙畫的黃色大香蕉,或是公眾形象公司(P.I.L.)純潔無瑕的唱片,只在中央有一個毛絨絨的黑色三角形。但我最鍾愛的絕對是大衛鮑伊的唱片封套,每個都好像是在描繪不同的人物。《怪異空間》(Space Oddity)封套上的年輕人看來還跟其他民謠歌手差不多,卻突然之間變身成《阿拉丁精神》(Aladdin Sane)封套正面上那不陰不陽的人物,之後又再轉變成《鑽石狗》(Diamond Dogs)的半人半獸奇怪生物。這些唱片封套是大衛鮑伊持續不斷自我再創的管道,傳達出一種近乎神話的意義,在許多方面甚且超越了音樂本身。看著如此豐盛奢華的圖像,我現在會認為,我少年時代之所以醉心於搖滾樂,圖像和音樂是同等重要的原因。


Thursday, 13 March 2008 21:47



楊昊 撰文
Supachai Panyaviwat 攝影






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