MAKE OR BREAK: GHOST NOTES





Started: 2021

Time/labour: ︎︎

Thanks to: Julian Berengut (programming), Wilson Wu (LED tech)

Keywords: time // text // collection // critique // memory // erasure

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Image: Make or Break, Ghost Notes, 2021, installation with text, algorithms, LED tickers, controller boards, and unnamed wrapped archival objects from the Fairfield City Heritage Collection. Dimensions variable. Image courtesy of Make or Break.
When an object or record enters a collection, it is catalogued, and removed from context and use. We are left with a series of textual stand-ins: lists of numbers and words that are supposed to correspond to or encapsulate the category, location, content and cultural value of an archive or object.

In musical notation, a ghost note occupies space within a score, but its details are stripped away to the point of near silence. Make or Break’s work GHOST NOTES responds to museum and other institutional digital archives. Mimicking the action of time on this particular museum collection, and exposing the role of language in erasing the objects they seek to preserve. A digital stream of text describing every object in the collection slowly suffers the degradations of glitches, lost names, locations and other contextual connections, introducing confusions and alterations to their properties and meaning.

Ghost Notes was first commissioned by Fairfield City Museum & Gallery for Extra/Ordinary, curated by Alinde Bierhuizen in 2021. It took as its source material the Fairfield City Heritage Collection.