Sunday, September 10, 2006

September 10, 2006: Public Works

September 10, 2006: Public Works

Our focus this week is on Public Works. Stay tuned for Episode 111, featuring 14 sound collages by artists from all over the map (both stylistically, and geographically), including a track by Public Works....


Public Works

Public Works is Lloyd Dunn and Ralph Johnson, two of the founding members of the Tape-beatles. The story goes that when The Tape-beatles started to become less focused on tape manipulation, and more about the increasingly sophisticated trickery available via digital means, the two decided to change the name to Public Works. The Tape-beatles have since released another record, so apparently it wasn't a name change so much as a splinter group, or a side project... For much more information about the confusing history of this multi-talented group, visit the group's website.

(Pictured: Ralph Johnson, 1/2 of Public Works)

Ralph Johnson joins us this time out, to answer the SAR Q&A concerning Public Works. I'll tell you, I was tempted to edit the past-tense out of his responses. I'm not happy to hear that the project is apparently in deep hibernation (I can't bring myself to say it's any colder than that), but I've never edited any of the Q&A's and of course I wouldn't make edits that severe, even if I did make it a practice. Suffice it to say, Public Works (and the Tape-beatles) are at the top of my personal list of favorite collage groups.

Regardless of the status of the project, Public Works cu
rrently have two records to their name. The debut CD, Matter, was released in 1999, on the Dutch label Staalplaat. They also have a record out on Elevator Bath, called Numbers. The Tape-beatles also have about four full-length releases worth checking out as well. I'd say my favorites are Matter by Public Works, and Good Times by the Tape-beatles.We'll be doing a full feature on Public Works, including a phone interview with Ralph Johnson, in the coming months - so, yet another great interview to look forward to! Until then, satisfy yourself with this brief look into the world of Public Works, courtesy of Ralph Johnson...

*Name: Public Works

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: Not really. Public Works considered itself an extension of the Tape-beatles project.

*Do you use a pseudonym? Ralph (sic).

*Members: Lloyd and I were Public Works, while the membership of the Tape-beatles fluxuated. If one considers it a functioning group, it currently has 2 members, Lloyd and John.

*Founding Members: Lloyd and Ralph (PW), Lloyd, Ralph and John (Tb).

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: The Tape-beatles focused on tape manipulations, while Public Works would probably be best classified as digital deconstructions.

*Another genre descriptor: The Tape-beatles used the term Plagiarism® to describe their working methods. The works themselves were considered "manifestos by deed."

*Is there a story behind your name? John wanted to call us the Tape-worms, but Ralph didn't like it. So we called ourselves the Tape-beatles.

*Location: Iowa

*Original Location: Iowa

*What is your creative/artistic background: Studied composition with Kenneth Gaburo at the University of Iowa, received MFA in Electronic Music from Mills College in Oakland, CA in 1995.

*History: Personally, I've explored the implications of tape as a medium since I was in Junior High. The Tape-beatles formed, I believe, in about 1986.

*Born: I was born in 1964, but I don't know when Lloyd and John were born. John's about my age, and Lloyd is a bit older.

*Motivations: A desire to understand the process of creativity in its inevitable social, economic and cultural contexts.

*Philosophy: Intellectual property is theft.

*How would you like to be remembered: By who? Am I dying? I guess as a decent guy who left some interesting work behind that made a few people think about some things.

*Web address:


Thanks to Ralph Johnson for filling in the blanks, concerning Public Works. Now go visit their website. No, wait, first go download this week's podcast (episode 111), which is uploading as I type, then while you're listening, do all the web searching you want, and when you're looking for more to read about, visit the Some Assembly Required links page, for links to dozens and dozens of websites, with tons of information about the artists we play here on the show.

By the way, be sure to tune in next week for our feature on Freddy Fresh! It will accompany the podcast for an episode featuring an interview with Mr. Fresh, so that's two things to look forward to. Lucky you.

Until then - thanks for listening!
Jon Nelson


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