The Gramophone Effect
by Gilles Aubry & Robert Millis


Based on historical accounts by recording pioneers such as Theobald Noble and Fred Gaisberg—who made the earliest sound recordings in India around 1902—The Gramophone Effect by Aubry and Millis is a sound essay on recording and listening. Described by Jacques Derrida as the tension arising between the desire for memory and the impossibility of preserving living voices, “the gramophone effect” refers here both to the estranging presence of recorded voices and the transformative potential of the unheard. Countering the overt exoticism of Nobles’s descriptions, the artists use other sources, including translations of traditional Bengali songs, an essay by sound artist Farah Mulla, excerpts of a conversation with Khasi folk singer Kerios Wahlang, and a speculative new voice adapted from the Lakshmi Tantra. Developed in collaboration with several Indian artists during a residency in early 2016, the piece also contains early Indian shellac records, field recordings from the Indian-Bangladeshi border area, sounds from instrument makers and musicians in Bengaluru and Kolkata, and improvisations by Aubry and Millis with an acoustic gramophone.

Participants: Gitanjali Dang, Usha Deshpande, Renee Lulam, Farah Mulla, Travelling Archive (Moushumi Bhowmik and Sukanta Majumdar)

Posted in Public Radio