SD video w/ Dolby Digital 5.1 audio - 2000 + 2004
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Evaporated Music
General Comments

The original concept for Evaporated Music was extremely simple: take complete video clips without altering anything of the original visuals, then totally re-design the soundtrack, replacing the original songs with a cinematic sound design incorporating sound effects, atmospheres and foley. Both the logistics of carrying this idea through, plus the effects of experiencing the resultant audiovisual work have both been considerably more complex.

The strategy of emphasing the audio in so-called visual media (cinema, video, television, etc.) has been central to Philip Brophy's productions and writings. Taking an oppositional tack to the idea of 'cut-up' (from montage through to sampling) which is generally focussed on a single and disconnected medium (either just cutting up image but nor the sound, or cutting-up audio slabs of video but without any accompanying visuals) Philip is more concerned with 'becoming' the audiovisual rather than contributing further to its modernist fragmentation. 'Becoming' in the instance of Evaporated Music means creating a new audiovisual sonorum that appears to be a thorough integration of the original video clip narratives, but at the same time is a transfiguration of the original texts. The clips of Evaporated Music - wholly untampered at the visual surface where most people concentrate their reading of the electronic/televisual/digital media - effect the becoming of something beyond the original clips.

The concept of penetrating and inhabiting the audiovisual-drome that characterizes video clips is central to the processes employed for Evaporated Music's production. The slicing, dicing & chopping of optical slabs which characterize the 'MTV-effect' of McLuhan-esque accelerated montage and televisual are - via Evaporated Music's reconstructions - rendered raw and unprocessed. The musical atomization which allows the performers to bath in the aural glow of pop music studio production is now palpably absent: the performer's stage has collapsed; their costumes removed; their presence extinguished. In short, the performers are rendered in uncomfortable surroundings: their spectacular imaginary world is sonically transformed into an unwelcoming sonorum. When music evaporates from the audio-visual flow, the sonic terrorizes all image residue; invisible noises filter through the unmodulated plane of silence which frames the image track.

Audiovisuality persistently remains the most primal and sensual compound experience - despite a long succession of mediarized 'revolutions' (the electronic, the televisual, the digital). Through each of those revolutions' faux-radicalized reinventions of limiting ocular/visual codes, the audio-visual meld is rarely priviledged, guaranteed, highlighted. Yet audiovisuality is the core realm where both image and sound - alone and combined - are at their most fluid, their most malleable, their most reconstitutable. Amidst the intense circulation that occurs there, one perceives that all sounds and images can be grafted wherever they may hold. Sounds and images then are less containers of meaning - as if they are 'modern media' versions of the arcana of words, sentences and paragraphs; sounds and images - as veins of audiovisual energy - are more tissue of matter.

For information on the second installment of this project: Evaporated Music 2: In The Mouth Of Metal

For information on the third installment of this project: Evaporated Music 3: Classical Corpus Delecti

Evaporated Music 1

As Brophy writes in the original programme note for the male Evaporated Music 1 Parts 1a-c (Rent, Overgaden Gallery, Copenhagen & Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne - both 2000):

“If you could dry the saliva deep inside Elton John’s throat, a universe of crevices would appear. His breath would oxidize this oral domain, highlighting a repulsive yet attractive granularity. Like the flaccid penile appendages of over-40 male pop crooners, skin would gather in strange configurations, creating a landscape bereft of all ethereal apparitions. Therein we can perceive with clarity the abject acoustica of pop music.”

The final completed version of Evaporated Music at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne 2004, includes the female Parts 1d-f. Brophy has noted an unexpected difficulty in working with Gloria, Celine and Mariah:

“The minute I started to refigure the monstrous feminine through processing these siren’s voices, I slid down the path of Drag – where the voice of Woman has been historical fodder for those that desire women to be angelic, mannequined or digitized. The challenge with this work has been to keep the women as visceral and as corporeal as the men. While the male stars evoke the rusted gargoyle (Elton), the gasping chimera (Phil), and the demonic Molloch-machine (Billy), the female stars have been re-designed into the cancer-coughing crone (Celine), the eroticised android (Mariah), and the wild call of the cougar-on-heat (Gloria). They glare and growl in the gladiatorial arena of gender that is Pop Music. ”

Evaporated Music 1 is a sono-musical ‘portrait’ of these pop icons. Drained of all performative excess and tawdry humanist bile, their carcasses are offered up as fecund material constructs. Their bulimic and bloated bodies now hollow, and their sex rendered as mortician’s dressing, a strange and pernicious mist arises as their music evaporates into surround sound air.

Complete contents of this page © Philip Brophy