Sonic artist Fari Bradley’s piece What doesn't decay… finds a correlation in the degradation of cine film and the human capacity to recollect. Created during her one year residency with Sound and Music at no.w.here in London, the installation creates a third space where the celluloid and audio tape are protagonists in the edification of, and subsequently rewriting of memories; as the film and tape decay so does the fidelity to fact with time. The installation consists of a powered cine film projector, a reel to reel tape recorder and a vintage speaker and a small digital, hand-held projector that projects a smaller image, overlapping partially with the main cine film projection.
For a period in the 1960s and 70s, when cine film and reel to reel tapes were at the forefront of technology, UK and Iran (where Bradley was born) shared a degree of unity in how they looked and sounded, as well as how they were portrayed in film and audio, both countries being then in ‘the analogue’ or pre-digital state. After 1979, due to an ongoing feud with the UK and USA over oil prices and per cent age shares in exports, Iran drastically cut ties with the West, changed to an Islamic republic and never looked or sounded the same again. For many of those who left due to the onset of the Islamic revolution, secular Iran remains an isolated period of 70s design and technology, one now only to be found in old footage, vinyl, cassettes and photographs. However, in the UK too, with the onset of the digital age, the distinctive presence of 70s technology has since all but disappeared.
For What does't decay..., Bradley spent a year experimenting with development processes and the degradation of cine film, using crude oil directly on the film stock itself and partially burning and melting it for before reshooting and reprocessing by hand. Bradley explores the degradation of film in a work that is shaped by the limitations of analogue colour cine-film processing in the digital age. During the course of her one year residency at no.w.here, the sourcing of colour film for the copy/ transfer process became increasingly difficult. The disappearance of positive colour film stock from the market, and the demise of both the equipment to copy it with and places it can be copied in, manifests here in the reframing, the colouring and the purposeful degradation of the film. It is a disappearing medium.
Simultaneously, ideas of the subjective nature of memory play out in the audio, captured by unidentified Iranian, English and American voices retelling experiences of sounds and design in the 70s. Irrespective of which country they were living in the recollections have a particular resonance with one another, each framed more by the era in which they were living than their country of residence at the time.
Bradley’s work spans sound sculpture, experimental radio and live improv performance, in a body of work that often deals with narrative audio. A major part of her practice is centred around recording interviews on and curating sound art from MENASA culture over a period of eight years, all broadcast on arts-music radio station ResonanceFM.