The Department of Art and Art History welcomed Stephen Lacy, creator of Academy Records, Thursday, Nov. 13. Lacy described his artistic endeavors as culminating out of community and conversation, creating an event or situation rather than being an investigation on one material. He said that Academy Records operates like a band in which individual musicians are making decisions about the composition. Depending on the project, Lacy works with engineers, architects, musicians, etc. in a collaborative, creating work that is ephemeral.
Academy Records unveiled the first of a three-part project entitled “Head (devices III)” in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2013.
“The exhibit explores platforms of distribution and how we engage in content,” Lacy said.
He said that the intention was to turn the space into something between an art gallery and a television studio. The stage set was a backdrop for a variety show of various musicians and performers. Lacy filmed the performers and edited the performance to reference “Beat Club,” a German music program from the ’60s and ’70s that was a prototype for MTV.
This year, as part of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Biennial exhibition, Academy Records was invited to present a field recording by Matt Hanner. The field recording called “No Jets” was created on Sept. 11, 2001. Hanner lived on a flight path in Chicago and Lacy described that the noisy planes were always taking off. On 9/11, when the planes were all grounded, Hanner had the foresight to record the sound on what Lacy describes as “the heaviest day.” Academy Records had to present Matt’s work, respond to it and “make it visible in the gallery.” Lacy didn’t want to fetishize the object of a record player nor did he want to create a listening station. So instead he created a 16mm film called “The Bower,” which is a one-minute, 30-second loop of a pan shot looking up at cherry blossoms in Matt’s neighborhood. The film is looped to match the 3.5-hour length of the sound recording. Lacy described that he wanted to explore the relationship between the real time of the recording and the directionality of a video loop.
This idea of sonic and film perspective came from a 2006 project called “La Conqueroo.” The performance of nine drummers playing the same score for 23.5 minutes and then simultaneously changing the beat for another 23.5 minutes served as a manifesto for Academy records, “visualizing the layering of abstract ideas and notions.
When the beat changed in the middle, the effect was “like the dolly/zoom effect used by Hitchcock in ‘Vertigo’”, Lacy said.
One observer described the silence at the end of the 45-minute performance as the sound of rollerskating on gravel and then hitting asphalt.
Academy Records will be presenting “Gilded Splinters (devices I)” at Rockhurst University’s Greenlease Gallery November 14-December 6.