21 Oct 2013
Tracking the Thrill 
Recently, whilst on holiday in New York City, I was fortunate to attend an exhibition walkthrough with Ike Yard's Stuart Argabright of 'Tracking the Thrill' at The Kitchen, one of NYC's oldest non-profit art spaces. This was a selected retrospective of the influential video work of Gretchen Bender (1951-2004), the centrepiece of which was 'Total Recall' (1987) a multi-screen installation set to a superb soundtrack of by Mr Argabright.

Apparently back in the day the whole thing would be cued up on banks of video players and the play buttons would be pressed in sync. Nowadays it's driven by computers but the TV screens are resolutely old school cathode ray.

There are a couple of Factory-related videos in the rest of the exhibition:

Gretchen Bender did the title sequence for the America's Most Wanted TV show (UK readers think 'Crimewatch' in terms of content, but without Nick Ross) and the soundtrack for that was by The Other Two. Bender's cut-up style quickly became the norm for many a show.

Robert Longo's video for New Order's Bizarre Love Triangle (FAC 173) is also included. Gretchen, who was Robert's girlfriend, did the again rapid-fire editing. More on the making of that video by producer Michael Shamberg over at a New Order Discography. According to Stuart Argabright, Gretchen herself is in the video.

The exhibition has now finished (as has the holiday) but this short clip below gives an idea of the overall experience.

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A Certain Ratio

"Manchester, 1978. In the beginning there were four: Jez Kerr (bass), Martin Moscrop (guitar/trumpet), Peter Terrel (guitar/effects) and Simon Topping (vocals/trumpet). Four thin boys with a name borrowed from a Brian Eno record, the intense, drummerless quartet initially drew influence from Wire, Eno, the Velvets and Kraftwerk, and gained a manager in Anthony Wilson of Factory Records.

"May 1979 saw the release of their first ACR single, the dark All Night Party, although the sound and musicianship of the band would be transformed by the arrival of funky drummer Donald Johnson (DoJo) in August. Over the next few months the band gigged widely, often with Joy Division as part of Factory packages, and recorded demos with producer Martin Hannett as well as a Peel session. Their support slot with Talking Heads on their UK tour in December 1979 set David Byrne on a new course, and provided the compelling live half of their chic cassette package The Graveyard and the Ballroom. Post-punk, ACR now reflected the influence of Funkadelic, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, The Bar Kays and James Brown."

- intro to ACR Biography by James Nice (LTM)

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