117. LI-MA

Off on our travels again; this time to Amsterdam (in the Springtime too!) to give a keynote talk at the Transformation Digital Art International symposium on the preservation of digital art. This is hosted by LI-MA, an important and distinctive organisation dedicated to preserving, distributing and researching media art. The symposium is chaired by Annet Dekker and Gabriella Giannachi (who edited the ‘Documentation as Art’ book that we covered back in Post 115) and focuses on the knotty challenge of how—and indeed why—to document interactive performance!

There’s no need to buy an extra seat on a plane as we did for Stockholm in November as we’re on the Eurostar this time—so just two changes and a cruise through the Channel Tunnel to get from Beeston to Amsterdam. Surely, there really should be more Belgian and Dutch tourists visiting us in Beeston as it’s so convenient for them? Carolan fits snugly in the overhead storage and we kick back and relax. Well, until we are visited by French customs who want to take a peek inside Carolan’s case. Luckily all passes smoothly and we don’t have to present a guitar passport to prove that we’re not importing endangered tone woods (see Post 108). Neither do they want to play a tune on Carolan in spite of our kind offer.

How wonderful to be back in Amsterdam, and LI-MA’s Lab 111 is a funky venue. We’re presenting to a good crowd in their cinema space. The vast screen looks spectacular. The seating is plush.

Our talk focuses on the complex relationship between guitars and documentation spanning literature, museums and the wider guitar industry which increasingly trades on the prestige and stories associated with vintage instruments, including through contentious practices such as relicing as we discussed way back in Post 96. Then it’s on to Carolan, giving something of as retrospective of how it has come to be connected to a wide range of documentation and how this is increasingly being brought back into its live performances. Lots of great questions and conversation afterwards!

Here we are (thanks Gabriella for the photo) talking about Willie Nelson’s Trigger as a prime example of a guitar that is so incredibly valuable precisely because of the stories it might tell—which are literally written into its body.

And finally a chance to enjoy Amsterdam in the springtime. It’s been too long! Hope we’re back soon.

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