Restez à l'écoute, 1994

1 audio CD (Fr.), 2 loudspeakers, 4’30”

Restez à l'écoute is a sound montage, a “cut-and-splice” of sources coming from the world of radio, in the form of orders and invitations, whose purpose is invariably suspended and interrupted. Like many of Claude Closky's works, Restez à l'écoute is disconcerting and plays with well-known and clearly identifiable perceptive stereotypes of the media scene, recombined. The work, which is invisible but insidious, interacts in an ambiguous manner with memory, when you enter its sphere of action. From advertisements, Claude Closky takes just invitations and pieces of advice, in other words, their introductory sentences uttered in a tone wavering between the suave, the persuasive, the incentive and the more coercive peremptory tone of the order given. Each sentence is spoken by a different voice and, because the work runs in a continuous loop, the sentences are repeated indefinitely in their sequence, in an obsessive, almost religious way, like a mantra. The structure of Restez à l'écoute involves rapidity, incisiveness and effectiveness, while the voices, piled on one another and saturating the whole available perceptive space, take on an almost physical, plastic, environmental dimension, in a time-frame that is at once present and expanded. In a general way, Closky's work has to do with the idea of collecting, classifying and analysing commercial communications; it is undeniable that the larksome, ironical dimension has a significant place in it. Over and above obvious reflection about communication, this work may be situated within a precise artistic field, whose boundaries are widening to the point of coming up against two types of research: on the one hand, the attitude and critical work of the Situationists and a large chunk of experimental cinema based on found footage, and, on the other, the imperative and no less perplexing ambiguity among artists who make language and its combinational and repetitive dynamic the key to their poetics. This is the case, for example, with Bruce Nauman who, from audio installations like Get Out of My Mind, Get Out of This Room (1968) to series of neon signs set wall-like one on top of the other (for example, the famous One Hundred Live and Die, 1984), has structured short peremptory continuous loop texts, which directly affect the onlooker's perception, visual and psychological alike. With Restez à l'écoute in particular, Closky organizes, in collage form, fragments of reality and extracts of existing syntagms which inform the everyday and are permanently interacting with collective behavioural patterns. This is why, in addition to being a critical work about communication and its various forms, Stay Tuned configures an extraordinary document and a fragment of memory: anonymous voices, exhortations, absurdities, but above all tempos, rhythms and tones trace out a small but important part of the sound world of the early 1990s, by subtly working its way into an individual and collective landscape, which plunges into a memory that has become history.

Andrea Lissoni

Translated by Simon Pleasance