Pounding Systems (1994)
Performance in the streets around Kensington, London with video/audio documentation exhibited on a monitor.
Car with audio system modified by Chodzko to (loudly) play music tapes synchronised with the speed of the vehicle.
A series of audio tapes containing popular music from the countries represented by embassies, consulates or high commissions in the area of Kensington near to the Royal College of Art (eg: Iraq, Thailand, Estonia, Mongolia, Iran, Romania, Nicaragua, Nepal, Lebanon, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, and Azerbaijan, etc)
Commissioned by the Royal College of Art’s MA Curator course inaugural exhibition, ‘Remote Control‘ (1994).
Pounding Systems (33 mins 31 secs excerpt) as low res, (digitised from VHS source) on Vimeo.
Chodzko created Pounding Systems from the idea of an official ‘diplomatic’ car cruising the city and melding with a nightclub playing ecstatic ‘folk’ dance music from across the world. Imagining a restless, aberrant, resistant hybrid creature prowling the streets in a section of the city, as the car slowed down at road junctions or traffic lights the music would grind to a low menacing growl and when travelling above the speed limit would begin to accelerate to shrill and frantic levels of distortion. Driving the car himself Chodzko intended the work as a form of empathy for pedestrians making their way to or from the various embassies in the area. He would choose to play a particular country’s music when close to its representative embassy quickly changing cassette tapes from their archive on the passenger seat of the car would. A camera mounted externally on the car’s bonnet recorded the journeys with their accompanying soundtracks. The frame showed the the streets ahead of the car reflected in the car’s windscreen as well as the streets and buildings receding behind the car. These videos were then shown on a monitor inside the RCA gallery while for the duration of the exhibition the car itself was mostly absent from the exhibition, being out roaming the streets.
Around this time Chodzko had been reading Maya Deren‘s Divine Horsemen: Living Gods of Haiti and decided as a final act of liberation for the final week of the exhibition to play Deren’s recording of Haitian voudoun music from the car’s modified sound system. Without telling the curators he drove the car out of the city and into the landscape around Allhallows on the Isle of Grain, Kent, playing the Voudoun ritual drumming at every speed (from 1mph to 70mph), determined randomly by his navigation of the route. Chodzko then replaced the Pounding Systems video tape that played on the monitor inside the RCA gallery with the video footage of this ‘escape’, entitling it, Speed Releaser.
Speed Releaser (10 mins 19 secs excerpt) as low res, (digitised from VHS source) on Vimeo.
Chodzko has frequently used the notion of a flow or journey of memory, emotion, attention, vision and bodies in relation to ideas of suspension, sleep, dreaming and dying in works such as Secretors (1993 – ) , The woods shall rise up in those places where you pause (1995) , Limbo Land (2001) , Remixer (2002), Night Shift (2004) , M-path (2006), Ghost (2010 -) , And the City Grew Quiet… (2011) , Knots (2013) , O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix (2020) , and Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see (2020). With a number of those works (as well as The music from Float 17… (2003), Test Tone for Landscape (2005), Play Play Play (2011), etc) sound is used as a medium for transforming consciousness within public space.
Pounding Systems exploration of ideas of otherness, identity, citizenship, place and belonging also appears in later works such as cell-a, Settlement, The Pickers, A Hostile Environment etc.