C Spencer Yeh

The RCA Mark II

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  • LP: Edition of 500
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We are pleased to announce the release of C. Spencer Yeh's The RCA Mark II, his second record with Primary Information.

The album is a follow-up to Yeh's recent vocal work and is focused solely on the non- musical operation of the famed RCA Mark II synthesizer. Built and installed in 1959 at Columbia University, it was the first programmable synthesizer and became the bedrock upon which the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center was founded. The machine has not worked since 1997.

While visiting a friend at the university, Yeh discovered the synthesizer and began to make regular trips to work with it acoustically: flipping switches, rubbing surfaces, turning knobs, and plugging/unplugging cables. Yeh notes, “One of my favorites was bending and loosening the really old, stiff cables in the back of the machine, creating a particular crackling sound that takes years and years of gathering dust and neglect to achieve.”

Using contact and room microphones, Yeh recorded these operations over the course of several sessions, and the recordings became the basis from which he composed this 12-track LP.

The finished tracks are jagged, sparse, and hypnotically rhythmic. In listening to the record, one does not so much hear the original synthesizer, but rather an artist dismantling the historical weight of the source through a composition of its transformation from a legendary machine to a one-ton hunk of scrap metal no longer operational. It is here perhaps that Yeh finds virtuosity and spectacle in the most basic acts of instrumentation, the movement and clank of mechanical parts.

The RCA Mark II features artwork by Robert Beatty and a text by Andy Battaglia about the synthesizer, which was originally published in The Wire in 2011. The LP is produced in an edition of 500 and retails for $20.00. The total running time is 38:18.

Please email info@primaryinformation.org for more information.

The artist then further manipulated and processed the material through a

series of live performances, which were recorded and edited to complete the album.

C. Spencer Yeh is an artist, musician, and composer based in Brooklyn, New York. His work has recently been featured in programs at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), the Whitney Museum (New York), The Institute of

Fine Arts at New York University, the Kitchen (New York), the Renaissance Society (Chicago), the Kinomuzeum at Museum of Modern Art (Warsaw), and Empty Gallery (Hong Kong). Yeh has participated in the Greater New York exhibition at MoMA-PS1 (2016), the Whitney Biennial (2014, in collaboration with Triple Canopy), and The Liverpool Biennial (2014). His video work is represented by Electronic Arts Intermix in

New York.

Primary Information is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that receives generous support through grants from the Michael Asher Foundation, the Robert D. Bielecki Foundation, the Brownstone Family Foundation, the Greenwich Collection Ltd, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Stichting Egress Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and individuals worldwide.

Primary Information is a W.A.G.E. certified organization.

C Spencer Yeh: The RCA Mark II

I C. Spencer Yeh 4' 21''
II C. Spencer Yeh 2' 10''
III C. Spencer Yeh 4' 15''
IV C. Spencer Yeh 1' 35''
V C. Spencer Yeh 3' 14''
VI C. Spencer Yeh 3' 29''
VII C. Spencer Yeh 3' 43''
VIII C. Spencer Yeh 2' 38''
IX C. Spencer Yeh 2' 57''
X C. Spencer Yeh 3' 34''
XI C. Spencer Yeh 2' 45''
XII C. Spencer Yeh 3' 39''

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