Saturday, March 1, 2008


Tellus, the New York audio magazine, was founded twenty-five years ago by Joseph Nechvatal and Claudia Gould (now the Director at the ICA, Philadelphia). 'The Audio Cassette Magazine' functioned as subscription only publication, issued bimonthly, and was active for ten years, releasing twenty-eight issues, including three CDs and a compilation two-LP set. These included many landmark soundworks such as

Christian Marclay's Groove
The artist's first solo recording in a professional studio. The 1982 track consists of dense layering of loops from the same 7 inch single, which had been altered to skip using little dot stickers. Included on Tellus #8.

Louise Lawler's Birdcalls
A 1972 work that transforms the names of famous male artists into a bird song, parroting names such as Artschwager, Beuys, Rusha and Warhol. Included on issue #5/6.

Lee Ranaldo's The Bridge
A 3:17 long track from 1985 that was later re-issued on the "East Jesus" compilation. Ranaldo calls it "my first try at fashioning a talking sound-piece". Included on Tellus #10.

Ian Murray's Keeping on Top of the Top Song
An excerpt of a 1984 performance of the Toronto artist's 1970 composition The Top Song, which included the first ten seconds of the of the top 100 songs of the previous decade. Arno Van Nieuwenhuise accompanies on drums. Included on Tellus #21.

Alison Knowles' Nivea Cream Piece
"First performer comes on stage with a bottle of hand cream, labeled "Nivea Cream" if none is available. He pours the cream onto his hands, and massages them in front of the microphone. Other performers enter, one by one, and do the same thing. They join together in front of the microphone to make a mass of massaging hands. They leave in the reverse of the order they entered, on a signal from the first performer." Included on issue # 24.

The best issues tended to follow a single theme, such as: Tellus #21 (Audio by Visual Artists) which featured Joseph Beuys, Joan Jonas, Susan Hiller, Christian Boltanski, Martin Kippenberger, Jack Goldstein, Richard Prince and Ian Murray; and Tellus #24 (Fluxtellus) which was curated by Reflux publisher Barbara Moore and included early sound works by Fluxus artists George Brecht, Philip Corner, Dick Higgins, Joe Jones, Alison Knowles, Takehisa Kosugi, George Maciunas, Jackson Maclow, Larry Miller, Tomas Schmit, Robert Watts and Emmett Williams. Perhaps the best sound piece was by Takako Saito; two small ball bearings which fell out of the cassette when opened.

Ubuweb has a series of downloads available, including issues #1, 3, 4, 5/6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 21, and 22, available here.

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