The Allerton Tapes

2015/16 / Sound Installation / Printed banners, portable cassette tape recorders, modified cassette tapes, analogue electronics and sound / 33 min

The Allerton Tapes is a sound installation using analog equipment and outmoded cassette tapes. Flanagan researched and recorded dialogue from a library of material he had amassed, taking audio he considered distinct in recent cultural history that included poetry, comedy, news bulletin, interview and political debate, amongst others. Using the cut-up technique made significant by William S. Burroughs and David Bowie, he spliced tape to recast narrative and context with every new compound.

The work comprises three cassette machines each playing a soundtrack of different loops, conversing with one another and the audience. The broadcasts engineer new dialogue, the cut-up creating an immersive area unfolding in the viewer’s mind. The full transcription conceived from the recordings are unfurled on banners creating a perception of space that envelopes the visitor. This underpins a literary ambition. New passages of language are formed by the cut-up technique. Existing sentences have been dissected and welded onto another, these juxtapositions forging new meaning and reading like experimental writing.

Installation view: International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK