Tone Pictures: Our Year of Dissent

At the birth of the recorded sound, the first commercially available recordings were called tone pictures. The 1904 Columbia records catalog reads like a transcendental poem: Evening Chimes in the Mountains, The Forge in the Forest, A Shriek of Shells.

Tone Pictures evolved into a category of recordings called Descriptive Specialties, many of which have been digitized and are available from the Library of Congress’s National Jukebox. These titles attempt to paint audio portraits of life at the advent of the 20th century, and present a distinct aesthetic experience: Two Rubes in a Tavern, The Passing of a Circus Parade, and Coming Home from Coney Isle.

Tone Pictures: Our Year of Dissent is an audio-visual poem by artist Ted Riederer that is an attempt to capture the persistent echoes of our time. Since 2010, has traveled the world with his conceptual art project Never Records. From the Mississippi to the river Jordan, Riederer has recorded and cut to vinyl over 500 performances in 7 cities around the world. Never Records continues to grow while remaining faithful to its original objective: to create community across social, political, and religious division.

Tone Pictures: Our Year of Dissent features photo emulsion prints made with records that Riederer recorded and cut to clear vinyl. Like insects in amber, these prints are an attempt to freeze an echo in time. Riederer is using the vinyl records like photographic negatives to capture traces of ephemeral sounds.

The records will represent a selection of audio recordings collected and recorded by Riederer whose titles will write a poem of this moment in our shared history: 

The Sound of Trains At Midnight

My Father with Dementia Trying to Remember 

My Friend the Undocumented Immigrant Speaks A Dead Language

A Chord Made From the Tears of the Artist

The Heartbeats of My Lover on the Eve of our Marriage

The Tax March, April 15th, 2017

The Evening Call to Prayer Heard from the Citadel at the Center of Amman