RIFF FATIGUE approaches the electric guitar and its role in the history of rock music as the point of departure for a meditation on histories of protest. Materials associated with the creation and production of sound (XLR cable, conductive copper tape, guitar strings) are implemented in tandem with materials used in the abatement of sound and protection of electronic equipment (second hand bath towels, sculpted ethafoam, upholstery foam, ear plugs) while the work implements a production strategy in which the range of semiotic characteristics (material, symbolic) of the electric guitar are engaged as the framework and language used throughout the exhibition. The work draws on primary themes of touch and amplification of bodily gesture while the resulting compositions take on an attitude located somewhere between protest and resignation -- there is a desire to take action but to also feel safe, to make noise but to also find the quiet spots, to protest but to also be protected from vibrations and frequencies that exceed the capacity of the body to safely experience without harm.
Certain work titles like ROCKET 88 and MAYBELLENE allude to early historical debates about the identity of the first recorded rock and roll song while other works like BAD refer more directly to the the translation of physical guitar strings from frequencies to musical notation denoted by letters.
The show title itself is a nod to the relationship between repetition or “riffing” (of political movements, violence, social conditions, oppression, and so on) and the ensuing physical and emotional exhaustion that it produces.