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June 2001

Special Problems of Working in a Transitional Economy

Our Czech-made ‘Meopta’ projector 2001-06-23 / Equipment repair creates challenge. When it comes to a challenge, The Tape-beatles seldom shirk: they meet the problem head-on with as much brute force as is required. It is our way. People who have tried to change our work habits are usually left bleeding along the side of the road. All of this assumes, of course, that The Tape-beatles are working in a familiar context, where they know the rules and how best to break them. Where to apply the pressure is usually all the information they need.

‘But what,’ the curious among you may ask, ‘happens when we place the Tape-beatles in a new context, with different rules, and unfamiliar faces on the bank-notes?’ Suffice it to say that we are living in just such a petrie dish; to wit: the Czech Republic.

What else were we to do with the gift of two nonfunctional Czech-made ‘Meopta’ 16mm movie projectors. We had need of them, there can be no doubt, because our American-made ‘Bell & Howells’ have precise power requirements that cannot be met by normal 220-to-110 power converters. For one thing, Europe actually uses 230v power, and nearly every converter simply halves the supply, thus delivering 115v. According to our team of Czech specialists, this 5v discrepancy was most likely the cause of the projector bulb explosion during our Barcelona show last year.

So, what we decided to do was to have one projector cannibalized for parts, and use those parts to fix the other one. We took the units to ‘Kino Technika’ in the Holešovice district Prague. John Heck’s wife Lucie served as our able translator. The technicians there handily answered our questions and laid our fears to rest: within one week, one of the projectors would be in 100 per cent working condition. So we left them.

Precisely one week later came the call. The projectors were ready. The bill? Sixty-seven dollars. The upshot? The newer of the projectors now works quite well and we can begin to preview films for a new spate of Tape-beatles work. We were given a small pile of Czech educational films that promise to surrender easily to the knives of our creativity, and contribute to new Tape-beatle spectacles.

For this is how we work, and you all know it, so don’t act so surprised.

Thank you, Luboš Tauš and Erik Piper, Brno.

2001-06-21 / ‘Numbers’ gets reviewed. At least one publication has to date weighed in with their opinion on the latest release by Public Works, Numbers. The German culture site de:bug has published a short review. We have an erudite and literary contact in Germany, who has been kind enough to toss off a quick translation

Read the review of ‘Numbers’ as translated into English on this site.

Thanks, Florian Cramer.

2001-06-19 / Today’s Reading. A slightly edited excerpt of a debate that recently ran on the Plunderphonia list, concerning whether or not artists who use samples should credit their sources.

Read it in our ‘Essays’ directory.

Thanks, Wobbly.

2001-06-07 / Today’s Reading. Proof that our ideas are everywhere: Kembrew McLeod files for, and gets, a registered trademark on the phrase ‘Freedom of Expression’.

Read the piece at Kembrew’s site

Thanks, Steev Hise.

Europe Gains Tape-beatle; America’s Loss

John and Lloyd in Prague 2001-06-04 - PRAGUE / Three-pronged approach loses prong. Public Works Productions, once based in San Francisco, Iowa City and Prague, now announces the closure of our Iowa City branch. The explanation being, of course, that Lloyd Dunn has moved to Prague to redouble efforts in Europe.

Preparing for a long hot summer, Lloyd Dunn and John Heck are laying the foundation for their new work in the old world. Among the list of needs for foundation-building are more work space, film projector repairs — and time. Lloyd’s first week in Prague has been spent getting settled in, conjuring new ideas, or whittling away at his hosts reserve with an ice-breaking, effervescent charm, and promenading the atmospheric Prague streets with his fellow beatle of Tape.

Studio space sought. Everywhere they look in the city they see potential studio space. The kind of spaces they have visited lately have not been rooms for rent offered by local realtors, but rather UNESCO-listed centuries-old structures. In the minds of The Tape-beatles it would be a deserved opportunity to put a new film together in the east tower of Charles Bridge. John could’t help arranging the new space in his mind, knowing immediately under which ornate Gothic window would sit his work desk, on which time-worn stone bench to put the coffee maker, and so on.

That fantasy vaporizes and the whole history of The Tape-beatles disappears the moment when confronted with artifacts from history of the Czech nation. Perhaps it was a momentary escape from the real difficulties at hand; finding ways to get a broken-down 30-year-old ‘Meopta’ 16mm projector to work, or configuring a computer desk for Lloyd to use.

We will keep you posted on our progress.

Traveling, as though his life depended upon it

2001-06-01 / Dunn done traveling, for now anyway. There were no site updates during the month of May, so, in order to avoid a blank page in our News Archive section where May’s page would normally be, we have posted instead a synopsis, with glorious full-color photographs, of Lloyd Dunn’s lingering journey to the Czech Republic.

Read last month’s travel record of Lloyd Dunn

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