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Ohi Ho Bang Bang: The TwoAkiko Hada & Holger Hiller1988

4'20" Colour

Ohi Ho Bang Bang: The Two
Akiko Hada and Holger Hiller
UK, 1988, Colour, 4’20”

Ohi Ho Bang Bang was the short‐lived side‐project of avant‐garde composer and musician Holger Hiller, Karl Bonnie of electronic band Renegade Soundwave, and video artist Akiko Hada. The Two — the group’s sole video — was included on their only 12‐inch single, The Three, released through Mute Records in 1989. Described as “audio‐visual music”, The Two disrupts and complicates processes of musical composition, performance and production. Exploiting the synchronicity of image and sound that is specific to the video medium, the artists composed the song through the editing of the video — a process governed in turn by the formal logic of musical structure.

The video consists of short clips of Hiller and Bonnie extracting sounds from a range of everyday tools and objects; the musicians’ gestures are performed emphatically for the camera. Visual and audio layering is achieved through Chromakey effects — though there are also some segments in which a sample’s audio continues to loop without its visual component. The track is heavily percussive but also incorporates non‐lexical vocalisations (including heavy breathing and panting), and the occasional grinding of violin strings and thumping of piano keys. Kitchen knives, tin cans, wooden poles, chains, and snapping mousetraps are among the assortment of household tools and scrap materials conscripted into service as musical instruments.

More conventional instruments also feature — the track begins with an electric guitar being thrown around the room (an inversion of the ritual “smashing of the guitar” to conclude a rock concert) and also includes a tortured violin; a piano beaten with a hammer and then stomped upon; and a turntable on which a record is scratched with a bone in place of a needle. Visual devices are not immune to the carnage — a television is repeatedly smashed through the screen with a sledgehammer. Traditional instruments are broken apart through misuse and misbehaviour, destroyed in the process of creation.

The masculine-adolescent bravado of all this violent crashing, banging and destroying is auto‐parodied in flashes of tongue‐in‐cheek humour: an electric drill pulled from a hip holster in the manner of a gunslinger; a ringing alarm clock positioned on Bonnie’s groin. Hada frequently collaborated with experimental musicians and performance artists, and The Two is indicative of her playful and humorous approach, and keen sense of comic timing. The work is pioneering in its use of audio‐visual sampling and remixing: techniques that were experimental in the 1980s but have since become commonplace in mainstream digital cultures. In its use of scrap materials, household objects, nonsense words, and acts of creative destruction, The Two both reconnects contemporary remix culture with its roots in Dadaist cut‐up performance, and draws links between the techniques of video art and the DIY ethic/aesthetic central to punk.

Text by Marianne Templeton