As part of Christian Marclay's new exhibition at White Cube in Bermondsey, London, The Vinyl Factory has installed a fully functioning, hand-operated record press in the gallery space, which is being used to print records live in front of viewers. We talked to VF's Sean Bidder about the project...
The record press is one part of a large exhibition from Marclay, an artist renowned for work that explores the intersection between music and art. It sits alongside a new series of paintings and some impressive video works by Marclay, and will be in action on Thursdays and Fridays each week, printing out a limited edition series of discs of music performances that take place in the gallery the weekend before (the delay is due to the time it takes to create a copper plate to print the records from).
The Vinyl Factory has a history of working with fine artists as well as musicians, and had been keen to work with Marclay for some time. "He was at the forefront of experimenting with vinyl as an art form in the 70s and 80s," says creative director Sean Bidder. "Long before The Clock [Marclay's seminal 2010 film installation, which knits together 24 hours of time-based scenes from movies and TV]."
Marclay and The Vinyl Factory initially collaborated in 2013, releasing an edition of Groove, a sound piece originally recorded by the artist in 1982 but never before available on vinyl. After this experience, Marclay became excited about the possibility of printing records in a gallery space.
"No one had managed to do this before, as far as we were aware," says Bidder. "So there wasn't actually a template to follow, so we scratched our heads for a bit and thought 'is it actually possible?' Because the press itself is reasonably small but you actually need effectively a factory to power it.... So that was the challenge really, could we create a factory and put it into a gallery and press records, but also make sure it was safe for the public and was enough of an experience for people. We got our engineers on it and they came up with this."
Above and top: Images of The Vinyl Factory Press, created in collaboration with Christian Marclay. All photos @ Arianna Power
The open plan look of the press was a particular requirement from Marclay, who worked alongside the Vinyl Factory engineers to create the look of the piece. "Christian was really keen from the beginning to show people the process of making a record, because he's really interested in process," says Bidder. "It was important therefore to find a way to show people all the different elements that are required to actually press a record."
One of the major delights of the factory, which is housed in a shipping container, is the opportunity to check out – and geek out over – all the different machines, which when placed in the context of a gallery space, feel like works of art themselves. Every stage is revealed to the public, from the formation of a PVC 'puck' that is used to print the disc on, to the trimming of the record at the end. "We all know that there is a vinyl revival and that people are interested in records again, but people don't get a chance to see how records are being made," says Bidder.
Images of the finished discs, featuring sleeve art designed by Marclay, and screenprinted in the space by Coriander Studio
Once printed, each disc is housed in a sleeve that is designed by Marclay and screenprinted live in the space, by London printmakers Coriander Studio. Editions can be bought from the gallery itself for £25 or online at thevinylfactory.com.
The performance programme has been curated by Marclay in collaboration with the London Sinfonietta, and so far has included performances from musicians including David Toop and Thurston Moore. New events will take place every weekend during the show's run, until April 12, and will be announced weekly on White Cube's website at whitecube.com/events.