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Imagine an object sitting on the table. It is oblong, and roughly book sized; it weighs about the same as a book. It would certainly sit easily on a shelf. However, it is not a book, it is constructed from silver plastic and has a line of small knobs and a rudimentary button keyboard. Along one side are a series of sockets for audio leads.
A little silver box – The Roland TB303 Bass Line Analogue
Synthesizer from 1982.
A device designed as a somewhat elaborate mimic of the bass guitar. Initially the only instructions were a seventy-page manual, Japanese with no translations. The aim was to allow ‘serious’ musicians to create accompaniments to their guitar-based demos, before recording them with a real band.
In this guise it was a failure and soon 303s turned up in secondhand shops at knock-down prices. Here they were acquired by tech-hungry people, attracted by the look of the device and unfettered from any assumptions about what it should do. Pressing buttons and twisting knobs as if the device were an instrument, rather than a laborious data-input system, they used it to produce flowing streams of bubbling, popping, pulsing sounds.
A book like a synthesizer, a synthesizer like a book. – from Mutter
Kit Poulson was library residency artist during 2016/17 through a collaborative commission platform initiated by Book Works with Chelsea College of Arts Library (University of the Arts London) and Chelsea Space. Mutter was the first of Book Works’ new Library Residencies Programme which presents a series of residencies and commissions under the title You Must Locate A Fantasy for artists to work with libraries, special collections and archives across the UK. Other residency artists include Sophie Collins at the Glasgow Women’s Library, and Simon Grennan and Christopher Sperandio at Chetham’s Library, Manchester.
Organised in response to a moment where libraries face uncertain futures yet hold the archives for potential futures, this project include: the exhibition Kit Poulson: Mutter at Chelsea Space, workshops, talks and other events at Chelsea College of Arts (University of the Arts London), this publication, supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, and a launch event and workshop at Spike Island and University of the West of England, as outcomes to the library residency.