Format — Annual publication 2020

Verlag für moderne Kunst, Vienna, 2021
Paperback, 22 × 16 cm, 112 pages, numerous ills. in color
ISBN 978-3-903796-66-9

Editor: Franz Thalmair
Texts: Lea Lugarič, Gudrun Ratzinger, Simon Sheikh, Franz Thalmair
Translation: Christine Schöffler & Peter Blakeney |
Artistic contributions: Peter Downsbrough, Ruben Aubrecht, Maria Anwander, Lone Haugaard Madsen
Poster insert: Josef Dabernig
Graphic design: Studio Kehrer |

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Image-Object Lessons in Power
The Gallery as Apparatus, the Exhibition as Format
By Simon Sheikh

In Michael Winterbottom’s 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, a portrait of the rise and fall of Manchester’s legendary Factory Records, there is a scene depicting the recording of Joy Division’s debut album, where the band and the label’s founder Tony Wilson listen to a playback of the session. Wilson suggests, even insists, that they listen to the track in the car rather than with the studio’s state-of-the-art equipment, even though one of the band’s guitar players quite rightly protests that “it’ll sound rubbish in the car”. Wilson agrees, but argues that they have to hear what it sounds like on a transistor radio. What Wilson is attempting here is, of course, to shift perspective from that of the producer to that of the consumer, passing through the space of production, the studio, through the modes of circulation, the car radio (or cassette), to the device of reception, the transistor (the transistor being the cheapest and most lo-fi version of a sound system). Rather than listening to the track in all its perfect audio detail, the exercise is to investigate its sound, and thus its message to the world, through its formatting for transmission and reception.