Strange Homecoming, A Structural Comedy (2010)

(or “Doing the Degenerate”)
A Digression on the Tune Running Through the Head in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction


Single-screen video / DV

16 minutes

Prior to the invention of mechanical recording, references to the now commonplace phenomenon of a tune-running-thru-the-head appear absent from literature. (Paul DeMarinis)

A psychological situation made possible by recording technology. Happening upon a long forgotten TV movie called Strange Homecoming, dwelling on a central scene where the character (Robert Culp) returns to his hometown after 18 years of degenerate behavior. Rewinding and fast-forwarding the DVD to re-listen to the strangely elusive theme music, trying to learn its modus operandi. Stupidly leaving the DVD at home when travelling to the country. One week of attempting through various mental procedures to recover the theme song, to surface it, to no avail. On returning, maniacally scrubbing over the same music, again and again. An earworm made possible by recording technology, subsequently impossible to dislodge. Except through systematically applying centrifugal force to the content, and centripetal force to the structure, producing multiple variations neither exactly the same, nor legibly different. Resituating the original as only one of a potentially infinite set of fractal variations. A process of structural listening (which Adorno contends was a dying art, no thanks to recordings and their repeatability) overheats into fractal listening, while the image degradation, immediately palpable, continues on its merry way. The viewer’s eye remains glued to the image, even while it is being scrubbed back and forth, while the music drops out, only to return after every landing subtly altered: same form, different melodies and harmonies. Listening to the recursive rhythms of the möbius strip, a sedimented state where it is no longer possible to tell when the flip to the other side occurred.

An abstracted illustration of a desperate process of re-covery, addiction and provisional therapy.

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