Yokomono – the Staalplaat Mono Erosive Surround Sound Installation.
Yokomono consists of 10 small car-shaped record players, a corresponding set of FM radios and two mixing desks. The cars, known as “vinyl killers,” have been customised with wireless FM transmitters. As they spin around the vinyl, they transmit their signal to the FM radios tuned to a special Yokomono frequency. This transmission is then mixed, edited and manipulated in real-time by members of the Staalplaat Soundsystem.
Yokomono is a simple installation and may seem like nothing more than a DJ set featuring 10 turntables. But each link in the performance chain is subject to variation, adding chaos, randomness and risk. First off, the “vinyl killers” are monophonic and deliver very poor sound quality. Second, their large size makes it hard to select which track is playing, kind of like playing a turntable blindfolded. The real fun begins when you realise the “killers” are battery-powered and run at different speeds depending on the strength of their batteries. As the performance develops, the “killers” slowly die. Battery charge also affects FM transmission and transmitting 10 channels at the same time further disturbs the overall sound balance. A combination of these factors makes the entire installation hard to control, which contributes to Yokomono’s uniqueness and charm.
For larger Yokomono installations, we hook the feed up to 200 radios. By arranging the radios into 10 groups, it becomes possible to explore the architectural dimensions of the performance space. Sometimes small radios are placed on a moving model train, which drives thru the space and allows us to create a kinetic visual and audible “map” of the Yokomono transmissions. Yokomono has been performed in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Budapest, Montreal, Moscow, Nante and St. Petersburg. Each time it is presented in a different form to make best use of the location and performance space.
we still consider Yokomono as work in progress. Next step will be to add a wireless video component to the setup.