Like any true music lover, when German artist Gregor Hildebrandt is enamored with a song he puts it on repeat. For Hildebrandt, however, the music he plays becomes the soundtrack to his prying apart, sawing, unreeling and reassembling of the last six decades’ analogue formats.
In Hildebrandt’s hands, the felt pressure pads inside a cassette tape become a mosaic. Warped vinyl bowls are built to towering totems.
Hildebrandt is the 2016 recipient of The Falkenrot Prize, which is awarded by Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin. An accompanying show honouring his work will be at the Bethanien until 8th May 2016.
The show’s catalogue, published by Stroemfeld Verlag, is a collaboration between the artist and Swiss singer Stephan Eicher. It includes an actual recording of unreleased songs by Eicher but, in Hildebrandt’s signature style, the record has been altered; in this case, cropped to the size of the book.
One and a half songs are actually listenable, the rest can only be experienced visually.
Gregor Hildebrandt began making collages with cassette tapes in the late 1990s, when the mixtape was a genre in its own right. In 2003, he began experimenting with vinyl multimedia. The resurging ‘hipness’ of record players shortly after was a coincidence he welcomes.
Of course, his deconstructive process doesn’t touch the music at all– or the memories it contains.
These intangibles evoke the words of one of Hildebrandt’s favorite lyricists, Robert Smith: ‘Held for one moment I remember a song/ An impression of sound/ Then everything is gone.’
‘I love to have a secret inside the painting,’ Hildebrandt says, ‘It’s not only the material, it’s the music that’s on it.’
Any meaning ascribed to the artist’s multimedia is typically only referenced in the title of the work. Lyrics by Sting, Kate Bush and The Cure all appear in his repertoire. But Hildebrandt doesn’t dictate nostalgic moments, he explains, simply creating the opportunities for them.
‘It’s up to the people [what they feel] I only propose an idea,’ be it a wow, flutter– or some other mystery.