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There is no soundtrackRethinking art, media, and the audio-visual contract$
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Ming-Yuen S. Ma

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526142122

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526142139

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History, noise, violence: Christian Marclay’s Guitar Drag

History, noise, violence: Christian Marclay’s Guitar Drag

(p.67) 2 History, noise, violence: Christian Marclay’s Guitar Drag
There is no soundtrack

Ming-Yuen S. Ma

Manchester University Press

This chapter both points to the limitation of the human voice in communicating the horrors of racialized violence, and suggests an acoustic model of thinking about history. In an in-depth examination of Marclay’s performance installation Guitar Drag (2000), the author listens to the different cultural forces reverberating within the ‘noise’ of the dying/destroyed instrument in Guitar Drag. These historical reverberations, powered by a shared legacy of violence enacted upon raced and classed bodies (and their parts), are amplified through an examination of seemingly disparate objects and events, including Billie Holiday’s performance of the anti-lynching song Strange Fruit, lynching photographs in the James Allen collection, and the ear phonautograph invented by Alexander Graham Bell and Clarence Blake.

Keywords:   violence, racism, noise, anti-lynching protest, dissection, sound reproduction technology, vibration

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