Monday, February 8, 2010

G.P. Tape Network

Spending long hours painting in our studios can be a lonely occupation. How can technology help to bridge the gap between one studio and another, and how does the technology shape the kind of ideas that people exchange?

Well, blogs, podcasts, Twitter, and Facebook help keep the conversation going on all sorts of art topics. But before the Internet, there wasn't much besides the phone for staying in touch. That's why in the late '70s and early '80s we invented the Golden Palm Tape Network, which was sort of the ancestor of this blog.

The way it worked is that you would record cassette tapes and send them around to each other by snail mail. You would leave some blank space at the end for other people to add their comments. People would initial the back to show they'd heard it. It would take months for any single tape to make the rounds.

The topics included art readings, live visits to art museums, amateur radio plays, and general discussion and healthy debate. The medium encouraged long, reflective ruminations, private thoughts, and thoughtful analysis.

The nucleus of the G.P Tape Network was a small group of us art buddies who knew each other at Art Center. We lived in the same apartment, a seedy dive called the Golden Palm. The artists involved included Paul Chadwick, Bryn Barnard, Thomas Kinkade, Ron Harris, Richard Hescox, and occasionally Tom Kidd, David Mattingly, James Warhola, and a few others who joined in later. All those people were (and are) brilliant and incisive and funny, and I owe who I am to what I learned from them.

There were hundreds of tapes, most of which were recorded over again with new stuff.

If I can find time, it might be fun to share some of these tapes online, especially the ones with our discussions of art. There's some fun stuff on there, and it reminds me how much communication technology has helped each of us to share our thoughts about art and to learn and grow.

Golden Palm (GP)
A visit to the Golden Palm


soutchay said...

I'd love to hear some of those tapes. Thanks for sharing! I still have tapes with my old guitar track recordings. Used to pass them around to my band members. Computer software has changed the way music is being recorded. Really enjoy all your posts. Take care!

Andrew said...

Hah, that reminds me of when people would do long-distance chess matches against a pen pal. Just waiting weeks for somebody to mail back their move, always wondering what their game was...

My friends and I occasionally do something similar. I've even toyed with the notion of having a private blog that a few of us would sign up for and use as a general musing/message board. Who knows though...

Speaking of communication, I just finished listening to your interview on Sidebar! Very insightful and fun! And thanks for the answer to my question, it gave me some stuff to chew on.

Unknown said...

That is really cool! I wonder if they would send art telegrams one hundred years ago?

N'Der said...

Waaah I like this concept !!

But we are still in a tape record, internet doesn't exist even in our dreams ^^

No very funny, I can imagine.

Random York said...

I like the idea of the slow, delayed response. I could spend all day at the computer but I could royally waste lots of time...I do anyway. I have a friend who is very close to Ray Bradbury and he says that Ray isn't so excited about the internet, that it is sort of like toy to men.
I think it's good to have lot's of quiet, not connected time.
The tapes are good! This blog is good!

armandcabrera said...


Great post. Shouldn't this be in dead tech?:-)
I have some of those tapes, having pestered Richard Hescox about them over beers at a con one evening. I'll have to dig around and find them. I don't remember anything incriminating though, just good stuff on art. Also Warhola gave me his Riley notes on the 6 lines which had been mimeographed like a bazillion times, it was like the rosetta stone to me. Tom Kidd and David Mattingly were very helpful to me with my career also, as you have been. So see how much you've all influenced people in a positive way.

Susan Adsett said...

I can understand why you don't want to turn them into a podcast (you have books to write! Snowstorms to plow through! Paintings to make!) but please, please, PLEASE get them transcribed and/or digitized (there are services that will do this for you). Tape is not a very stable medium, and they should be preserved - that way you can post them decades from now (when you tire of unicycle painting, perhaps).

Don Cox said...

"Tape is not a very stable medium"

More stable than the Internet, though.