Akeroyd Collection


Cory Arcangel, A Couple of Thousand Short Films about Glenn Gould, 2007

In this 2-screen video work, amateur musicians using instruments ranging from tubas to pianos, guitars to synthesizers, play to camera in varying degrees of competence and quality. Taken from YouTube, Arcangel has assembled nearly 2000 clips extracting single notes from each performer for use in a new musical composition. Through painstaking and skilled editing, the split-second performances have been marshalled into legibility to present a convincing version of Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous Goldberg Variations. Each screen carries a melody line, sequencing the single notes in perfect synchronicity and harmony, becoming a virtuosic, if visually chaotic, rendering of a classical masterpiece. The amateurish nature of the component parts belies the complexity of the overall composition. As a result, ideas of individual authorship are questioned, and the cacophony of collective voices, which has been organized into meaning, offers a synonym of networked culture, open-source technology, and a political impulse toward collectivisation. Pianist Glenn Gould frequently used the technique of piecing together various recordings to produce his commercial records. In this work, that references Gould’s technique, this unintentional collaboration opens up questions around digital production and reproduction, copyright, interpretation and the democratic spaces for self-expression that some of us are able to share in.

MediumDual Channel projection from a digital source
Duration2 minutes 15 seconds
Editionof 5