Boomerang (Nancy Holt & Richard Serra, 1974) 🎧

Boomerang (Nancy Holt & Richard Serra, 1974)

The mindblowing effects of an extremely simple -but familiar- technical defect (voice is delayed and then looped back into the headphones) on human thoughts, behaviour, sense of identity and perception of time. Nothing special about the visuals (I didn’t post it in the wiki) but I found it incredibly powerful.

On top of what Nancy Holt herself says during the performance, a 1976 article by Rosalinda Krauss explains that “Because the audio delay keeps hypostatizing her words, she has great difficulty coinciding with herself as a subject”. I didn’t know the word hypostatis but I dig anything that fucks with the human brain, and this is such a thing.

Your own words becoming things that exist out of yourself, rather than being manifestations of your thoughts? It reminds me of Terence McKenna’s little friends.

the mentioned 1976 article by Rosalinda Krauss (see 5th page):

i liked this commentary better than others:


I wouldn’t call it a performance so much as a demonstration or exhibition of the effect. Seems like she is just relaying what she is experiencing. I wonder how it would work if you are reading out loud or being interviewed.

It’s fine that it doesn’t impress you jimbo, I’m probably a naive person.
Performance or not, I’m afraid I’ll use again the wrong words as I’m not a native English speaker, nor do people around me speak English.

i feel like it’s significant as a performance in the context of the artistic tradition of video art and performance. i personally feel this is a historically important and iconic performance. i find it a bit similar to I am sitting in a Room by Alvin Lucier, also a very important piece imo and one which might just as easily spark an “is this art” debate. i also think a lot of early electronic art has this kind of demonstrative quality that i quite enjoy.

i was also amused to hear this piece sampled in this weird (new wave??) album as an interlude (about 15 mins in):