I begin with a theme in mind, and then log in to Google Play or iTunes1 to find some music. Let’s say the theme is: Hitchcock movies. Marnie, Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window… Torn Curtain, Frenzy, Family Plot, Topaz… Lifeboat, Under Capricorn, Jamaica Inn… all exist as song titles and are ready to be purchased for download.2 Unfortunately there’s The Trouble with Harry. The Girl Was Young is also trouble and The Paradine Case is irresolvable. There are no songs with these titles. A comprehensive catalog of songs-that-share-titles-with-Hitchcock-movies remains elusive.3
On to Shakespeare, I can’t find a track titled Troilus and Cressida, so my collection of the tragedies (I even found a Timon of Athens) remains incomplete.4 I’ll soon find out that the same goes for the comedies (never mind the histories, not even worth trying for). Theme abandoned.
How about the 20th Century? Yes, 100 songs found. And to be properly anal, all 100 titles contain only the four sequential digits of each of their titular years. What about the twelve apostles? Bingo, although Bartholomew isn’t easy to track down. An oxycodone molecule? 18 songs titled Carbon, 21 titled Hydrogen, 1 titled Nitrogen, and 4 titled Oxygen—complete. The project moves along…
Themes upon themes upon themes paired with themes and other themes (but not those themes unless these themes, etc.). Not all themes intend to be comprehensive, just thorough. I try to be as exacting as possible in finding a song that has the word(s), and only the word(s), I’m looking for. But I’ll make occasional exceptions. For instance, in the case of U2 (who didn’t make the final cut), if someone is looking for a song titled Bono or The Edge, it’s no problem.5 Adam Clayton or a Larry Mullen Jr.? No dice. But there are songs titled Adam and Clayton, Larry, Mullen, and Jr. So I may combine songs for amusing wordplay.
If there’s a song titled The or About or Pickled Peppers, I won’t use that same song again to complete a theme. I will have to find additional Thes, Pickled Pepperses, etc.
If you’re reading this while at 71 Morton St. during gallery hours, you’re hearing a lot of noise: this is the songs I bought.6 They’ve been mixed together by theme. You’ll notice you’re sometimes able to make out a voice or a genre, and maybe even recognize a song and/or an artist. You’ll also notice words written on the wall alongside nearly every speaker—these identify themes/rubrics.7 There are further words to be found in an exhibition booklet, which lists all songs in the show by theme/rubric. The list of works should fill in any other blanks. If it doesn’t, I’m sorry to be less thorough than I think I’m being.
There is also a work in the show which is meant for your nose.
–Darren Bader 5/17