Jesse Jarnow

stopwatch recordings & postcards: consumer electronics show

I finally organized an official archive.org page for Stopwatch Recordings. There, you can download the three previous discs I’ve put up: Postcards: Atlantic City (an EP of modified field recordings), On A Clear Night, You Can Smell For Miles (an album of songs), Running at the Sunshine (a theater piece), and — as of now — Postcards: Consumer Electronics Show.

Postcards: Consumer Electronics Show is comprised of unaltered, binaural field recordings made at the 2006 edition of the country’s largest trade show. Over 150,000 non-consumers — vendors, buyers, celebrities, quasi-celebrities, execs — filled 1.6 million miles of floor space of the Las Vegas Convention Center, fussing over the latest and greatest in all things beepy.

1. Microcosmicomics
So large it required its own sub-map, but still only requiring three-and-a-half minutes to traverse, the Sony pavilion was a microcosm for all of CES. Ambient music blares from demonstration speakers, hawkers hawk absurdly overblown home entertainment systems and digital books, conventioneers schmooze, and Sony product provides a titillating soundtrack.

2. Authorized Mash-Up
The rear end of Sony’s space was filled with a circular 150 (?)-person capacity movie theater, screening an eight-minute corporate mash-up hype film. Between hyperspeed CGI-enhanced edits, celebrities ho themselves for new gizmos, hot movies get previewed, and an authoritative Hollywood voice booms a World of Tomorrow fantasia narrative. No mention of Sony’s innovative Digital Rights Management program, though.

3. The Full Tramp
The full tramp — well over a mile — from the two-level South Hall, across the massive Central Hall (where the Sony pavilion was), through the bass-booming North Hall (where bikinied booth babes demonstrated the hottest backseat subwoofers), into the Hilton next door (where modest stalls sported clever Asian miniaturizations), and through their casino (where Google’s Larry Page was about to give a keynote address at the theater normally occupied by Barry Manilow). Hear attendees chatter in a variety of tongues, whizzing golf carts, and even Robin Williams, who walks by at the 17:41 mark (you can hear one of has handlers say “you are a quick study today” and Williams responding indistinctly) as he exits the Hilton just before his appearance at the Google keynote.

4. Flamingo Soundwalk
Later, back at the Flamingo, the elevator counts down and opens on the casino floor, where a lush world of bleeping slot machines (all tuned to the key of C), drunken bachelorettes, clinking poker chips, and distant pop songs fans open like a lotus flower. After a walk around the floor, we return to the elevator, an endless Borgesian hallway, and the hotel room. Another Friday night in Vegas, just after midnight, circa January 2006.

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