Tabs Out | Reece Cox – Broca’s Talking Candle

Reece Cox – Broca’s Talking Candle
9.5.17 by Ryan Masteller


“Broca’s Talking Candle” is a handy artifact in Final Fantasy IX that you can use while searching for lost treasure with your Chocobo… Wait, is that right? That’s not right. Sure, it SOUNDS like something straight out of FFIX, but “Broca’s Talking Candle” is actually a recording made by Reece Cox at an exhibition where he was surrounded by sculptures. And the resulting sounds were released on cassette tape on ARs Media. That’s why you’re reading about it right here! It’s a tape, not a magic candle! I’m such an idiot.

Broca – there’s a lot to unpack here, but Broca’s Area is “responsible for the formulation of verbal communication,” and it is there that Phineas Gage got himself impaled with a railroad spike sometime in the year of our Lord 1848. He didn’t die, but the accident resulted in “Broca’s aphasia,” a condition whereby sufferers “can comprehend incoming verbal communication but cannot formulate verbal language themselves.” Yowza! So basically, if I applied this to myself, it would be like me listening to Reece Cox’s “Broca’s Talking Candle” and not being able to write anything coherent about it, or at all. (Sort of like what’s happening right now.) But wait, there’s more! The sculptures that Reece Cox was surrounded by at the exhibition, held at the MAW Gallery, 56 Henry St. SE, New York, NY, in the summer of sixteen, reflect the disorder. I wasn’t there, you guys – I can’t account for any of it. I’ll buy into it though.

Cox sure captures the feeling of this condition, of sound entering and being understood but without the ability to reciprocate. There’s uncertainty, tension, even dread at not being able to understand Broca’s aphasia or, with understanding, bear it. “The compositions were arranged using midi mapping technology to create sequence structures from the human voice. Each composition uses the same sequence through different routings of a modular synthesiser [sic], mimicking the distortion of information processing that takes place during the cognition of a person suffering Broca’s aphasia.” (I don’t even know why the hell I’m bothering to write something new about this – ARs Media’s done it for me!) So the question is, then, is Reece Cox recording these sounds to tape so that listeners can get an idea of what this condition feels like, in sound form? Or is the intention that only those with Broca’s aphasia can truly grasp “Broca’s Magic Candle?” Only one way to find out – jam a crayon up my nostril as far as it goes and see what happens! (Please do not try this.)

ARs05 comes on gorgeous heavy cardstock, the whole thing like a sepia photograph. Buy it or else!

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