Accumulator was the olde time word for battery – so the Orgone Accumulator was conceived of as being a receptacle for Orgone Ennergy by analogy with the voltaic accumulator etc. The idea was that as the plates of (e.g.) a Leyden jar would store something unknown (electricity, we now know) to release through cables, so the sandwiched materials of the Orgone Accumulator would supposedly store the mystical energy that pervaded the universe, to be released in activity by the person sitting in the box.
So calling it (the installation) a “time-lag accumulator” is a pretty funny (in the sense of funny ha ha) thing to do, it implied that here was a battery for storing up and releasing time. So it’s a technical rather than a general use of the word. It just tickles me. Delay as a device for storing time (rather than time) is an genius upside-down way of looking at it.
Hi - I am sending this again as it was too long for the list serve (I chopped of the balance)
It's also interesting too that in my researches I found that the time-lag accumulator term was first used as an _expression_ for a physical space made for an the Magic Theatre Exhibition curated by Ralph Coe in 1968 - so the accumulator in question may have been a punnish reference to the Reich Orgone Accumulator. The first references to it are in 1968, and refer to a physical construct. The construction of the room sounds similar (in the sense of sandwiched boxes) to the O.A. The book of the exhibition (which is a classic of its type) has reference to Riley's performances but reserves the term for the the artchitectural space. The human component live recorded was part of Mescalin Mix. I can't find an earlier reference than here. But TLA is a great name for what he made. (I know that I sound like damning with faint praise here, I'm not, I'm trying to unravel contemporary history)
From Coe's program notes
The "Time-Lag Accumulator" is closer in concept to his musical concepts than might be supposed at first. It includes the layering up of networks of sound ( though by unplanned voice participation rather than instrumentation), repeats cyclically
In his time-lag accumulator Terry Riley skims off the surface or conversational fragments (or anything whistled, screamed, sung, or uttered) and asks us to study for an instant what is spoken, parlaying a casual activity into reactivated consciousness If sound is used for “portraiture" and wager in Jones's “Sonic Games Room." here it is used in another way. as “history" — recent history repeating itself.
There is a photo in the thing as well, but I don't have it any more. Someone with access to interlibrary loans might be able to get it (hint hint). Quite amusing is the grumblings of the technicians
"The Riley earned us more problems than the rest of the exhibition combined. The biggest difficulty with the Riley was in keeping the two modified tape recorders installed on the top of this piece in working condition. The recorders . . . required almost daily adjustment. A further problem with the Riley was the glass doors. We had to replace four doors and one interior mirror. However, we had larger g1ass holding clips made and installed, and believe that this problem has been eliminated. We had two 110- volt circuits with this piece and placed it first in the total exhibition as a means of controlling the influx of visitors. We further found that visitors had to be told what to do, such as talk, yell or scream so that this exhibit would mean something to them. Just prior to this piece we had a repeating tape of some of Terry Riley's music with a sign explaining this."
Time Magazine June 6th 1968, Vol. 91 Issue 23, p86.
How about a trip that will dissolve the floors of memory and identity, becloud the boundaries separating reality and illusion, return the traveler momentarily to his primal, psychic self—all without benefit of hallucinogens? Such was the offer being made last week by Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Gallery. To bring off the most spectacular environmental light show ever staged, the gallery had assembled $400,000 worth of materials and labor in its "Magic Theater," a kind of transistorized tunnel of light designed by eight leading U.S. light, kinetics and environmental artists.
from a review in Art Scene 1968
South Dakota Review of a 1970 reinstauration of it
In Terry Riley's Time-Lag Accumulator (1968), like Jones's piece originally part of the Kansas City Nelson Gallery's "Magic Theater," the sounds made by the spectators within the environment's space are recorded on tape and, thanks to several tape-delay systems of various lengths, played back at times varying up to two minutes later; so that the space itself becomes a responsive but perversely irregular echo chamber that as Ralph T. Coe puts it, "skims off the surface of conversation and asks us to study for an instant what was spoken, parlaying a casual activity into reactivated consciousness.