‘X Ray Audio’ – Paul Heartfield
April 2015 – Present, A.Bliss EC1 gallery wall, consultation area.
The term X-Ray usually connotes an element of the medical, it causes us to think of broken bones, our insides and what our interiors do without our knowledge. Most don’t make the link between X-Rays and music but Paul Heartfield has. His project X-Ray Audio shows the remarkable efforts of those who sought to listen to western jazz and rock and roll in Soviet Russia between 1946 and 1964. Armed with a copy of the smuggled original these bootleggers raided the local hospitals to find discarded X-Ray prints with which they could then secretly duplicate and distribute to be played in secrecy on peoples gramophones, risking imprisonment.
The project takes its form in nine limited edition archival c-types. They are circular reproductions of the record complete with the needles, grooves and personal annotations of those who once cherished them. The monotone ghosts images over the record show an abstract selection of half noticeable body parts. each piece forms two types of recording processes, the scientific; accentuated by looking through the circular glass on top as if a magnifying lens, and the sound recording. Dry mounted onto two millimetre aluminium gives a similar rigidity and width to that of a vinyl record giving the feel that you could pluck the work off the wall and play it.
The project tells a story few of us know of and gives a incredible insight into censorship, creative ingenuity and the human form.