TAPE 342

At some point during the evening of June 20 1972 a conversation between two men was secretly taped on a SONY TC-800B reel-to-reel voice recorder. The tiny lavalier microphones that picked up this particular conversation were cheap and poorly distributed throughout the space. The result was a tape of degraded sound quality produced under deficient recording conditions.

Tape 342, as it is officially referred to, is but one of a sprawling archive of approximately 3,700 hours of audio recordings taped surreptitiously by the late American President Richard Nixon over a period of several years. Of the many thousands of audiotapes confiscated from the Oval Office, Tape 342 remains by far the most infamous. Not because of the damaging or volatile nature of the information it contains, but precisely because of its absence: a gap in the tape of 18-1/2 minutes. A residual silence that is haunted by the spectre of a man who refused to speak on the grounds that such testimony might be self-incriminatory. In pleading executive privilege Nixon refused to fill in the gap that would return the voice to the machinic silence of the tape and enable the playback of history.

Listen to the 18-1/2 minute erasure.

Overtones: On How to Listen, Goethe Institute, Ramallah (2019)

Tape 342: A timeline of testimony, Galerie Wedding, Berlin (2015)

Hlysnan: On the Notion & Politics of Listening, Casino Luxembourg (2014)

For Reasons of State,Whitney ISP, The Kitchen, New York, NY (2008)

Right to Silence, The Showroom, London (25 February 2012)

Tape 342: That Dangerous Supplement

Description: 18-½ minute audio copied from Watergate Tape 342 (courtesy of NARA) and converted into a video file to emphasise the highly energetic nature of the “silent” tape-gap. Presented on a 10″ JVC monitor with a digital media player.