In tandem with our publishing of his decades-spanning cassette retrospective Selected Sound Works (1981-2021), Pentiments is honored to present The Viral Tempest, a double LP collection of two recent audio works by post-conceptual artist and writer Joseph Nechvatal. The first piece in collaboration with Andrew Deutsch, OrlandO et la tempete viral symphOny redux suite, uses an anonymous reading of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando as a type of recurring sonic signature around which the virus-modeled artificial life audio material from the first movement of Nechvatal’s 2006 piece viral symphOny: the enthrOning is reanimated. The second piece, pour finir avec le jugement de dieu viral symphOny plague, serves as a brother suite to the first and instead uses Antonin Artaud’s controversial recorded performance of his radio play To Have Done with the Judgement of God as the sonic figure which Nechvatal deconstructs, convolutes and weaves as a new and radically transformed material into the returning living fabric of his viral symphOny.
While one can refer to Nechvatal’s original viral symphOny recordings as a preceding statement on open-ended process and immersion into detrital dynamism, this pair of sibling suites can be understood more specifically as elaborating on the rhizomatic re-conceptualizations of identity and figuration within this dynamic space that feature prominently in the series of virus modeled a-life paintings paired with these audio suites and, generally, in his philosophy of noise art. The folding of the de-subjectified subjects of Woolf and Artaud into a supra-individual, boundless space of chaotic viral energy reflects a process and practice wherein, to quote Nechvatal, “one of the most important characteristics [. . .] is its sense of encompassing being within a field of vibratory enshrouding—but an intertwined embossed shrouding that places being at odds with closed, cliché, visual-audio signals and resituates us within open vibrancy.” The particular matter of gender fluidity, invoked by the Woolfian character of Orlando and his/her preternatural condition of man-become-woman, is transfigured into supplementary sensual material which Nechvatal embraces and intensifies further within the context of societal and environmental storms, for in his words, “Storms have no gender and mean full-blown fluidity.”
A turn towards radical flux and immanence and a noise-oriented rethinking of the Deleuzoguattarian body without organs describes just as faithfully the more immediate the sonic character of the works, replete as they are with relays of relativized intensities, variations in speed and affect, creative-destructive reconfigurations of language and signs, the passing through of various genre-becomings (spoken word, computer music, noise, shoegaze, ambient), and so on. Through this teeming synergy of his audio, visual and textual works, Nechvatal ultimately aims to present the beholder with a new and more expansive way of theorizing and experiencing the fraught relationship between the cultural-political and the sensate, one that chooses to perplex and problematize with imaginative pleasure rather than reduce, parse and codify through cohesive allegiances. As he writes, “I have come, counter-intuitively, to see the style of cultural noise as the necessary art of today—precisely because it does not cave into the supposed need for immediately legible spectacle. Indeed, it restores art’s responsibility of resistance.”
In an edition of 200 with a full color gatefold jacket, full color labels, an 11×11″ 12-page full color exhibition catalog documenting the paintings featured in Nechvatal’s 2020 Orlando et la tempête art exhibition at Galerie Richard (Paris) and an 8.5×11″ insert featuring an interview with Nechvatal by S.K.G. Noise Admiration regarding his art of noise philosophy. Mastered and cut by Kassian Troyer at Dubplates & Mastering.