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The Axis of Texas


Toby Kaufmann-Buhler

Year of production: 2006

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This piece began as a travelogue that brought together two disparate places, Germany and Texas, through the shape of a particular kind of movement: that of video and audio tape as it moves through a tape-based playback system. In the case of both video and audio, this system involves a pair of tape reels, with the tape moving back and forth from one reel to the other and being “read” between the two by a tape head, which can also record to the tape as well.
This particular system, unlike the current digital non-linear systems that have superseded it, is quite rigid in that it can only move in one direction at a time, and cannot jump from place to place along its length without a gap in playback. The information written to tape is quite stable, but it does have an inherent instability, which is that its memory is corruptible, and can be erased or written over easily.
In "The Axis of Texas", this instability of memory is explored, as the piece travels from place to place at high speed and gathers experience even as it finds the need to forget what came before. As the media on which it is gathered must sometimes “forget” in order to continue its forward momentum, so it seems must the larger culture in which the work finds itself.

Keywords: Texas, USA, Germany, surveillance, desert, airport, skating rink, rotation, revolution, memory

More from this author:

The Same but Different (Everything becomes round) [excerpt]

A Saw in the Sound Garden at the Experimental Television Center

Horizon Life (the appearance of distance) installation, Oct-Nov 2011

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