Creator: Izzie Levinson
Date Created: September 11, 2001
Name of Document: The Disintegration Loops – William Basinski
Context: Analog sound artist William Basinski had been transferring a number of tape loops to digital formats in the early 2000s, a process which he soon realized was causing his weakened strips of tape to crumble and fall apart. He finished his project on September 11, 2001, coinciding exactly with the terrorist incident occurring at the World Trade Center that same day. The covers of the LP versions of his loops document a several hour-long video depicting the sun setting over a smoking Manhattan, plumes of dust fusing into blackness in the distance.
Potential relevance for the future: Basinski’s project indicates a poetic fusion of preservation and destruction, emblematized both by the gradually fading sounds of the tape loops as they continue to cycle through playback and the events that occurred on the day of his project’s completion. As visual artifacts, these LPs also document a kind of temporality in their sound format — the semi-antiquated record player — with a historic event many young adults now consider to be a long time past. The project indicates the way in which histories and times continue to overlap, and works to continue to preserve the memories of ephemeral things (sounds; lives) as they disappear in tape crumbs and smoke.
Other relevant headings: William Basinski, sound art, 9/11, LPs, album art, experimental art, conceptual art