Sal Randolph! Here are a few scans of sections of Randoph’s two demi-monumental Combat Logs: each log is approximately 25′ long and took just under 2 hours to create. At 11am on April 3rd, Randolph posted herself at a tall table in the gallery, manual typewriter at the ready, and recorded whatever there was to see, hear, notice.
Randolph’s logs capture the moment to moment activity of the gallery, not only the boom, clatter, “bahdada / boom / bahdada,” “behdeh” of the machines and players, but the scene’s various scores: the music, the voices, and the skee-ball scores. The logs are laborious, stark, starkly useless, and teaming with detail that correspond to no dramatic arc, no punchy conclusion or tenuous build-up. Sure, the occasional “100!” surfaces, but games don’t begin and end, players don’t show up to occupy center stage; the elements mix, all of a piece. Randolph gives us a smooth surface of transcription, slipping out from under constraints of description or even good-enough field recording—what could anyone do with these logs but read them? And reading them doesn’t seem to be as important as their very existence. They testify to their production and to the oblique charge of a mechanical system that, perhaps like skee-ball itself, is rich precisely because obsolete, dainty, fragile, and yet still just hard enough to play well. Randolph plays the typewriter and lets us hear the skee-ball machines playing themselves: do the onomatopoetic syllables of “badoombopbop” capture the roll and double-thunk of a ball? Maybe, but the typewriter/alphabet/skeeball system comes to the fore. The logs mimic and stage the entire machinic assemblage, one in which they participate as well.