Thursday, August 31, 2006


Radio interview about the project

There is an audio file of the interview i did about the project over on my other blog.

This may be helpful for a little further explanation about whats going on with the project, what I am trying to do etc. I messed up a few of the questions. Like there actually is more to it than ONLY uploading or sending in a photo. It would be great to get any stories, memories, notes etc, that pop to mind when you look at your the picture of tapes as well.

I'd also like to say a big thanks to everyone who has contributed photos to the flickr pool so far, or have turned up on the blog for one reason or another. Some really great information has come in about what is happening with our tape collections, whose keeping them, who wishes they did, and those that wish they had taken a picture before they threw them out! PEACE.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Diary of a Deadhead

Diary of a Deadhead
Originally uploaded by e.dward.
Because tapes are now 20 years past their prime, many signifigant collections that have been put away or forgotten, are considerably more valuable and interesting once they have been rediscovered. A lost collection can be sort of a time capsule that when found, reveals a bit of history once forgotten.

e.dward found this groovy collection at a garage sale, I wonder if it would be a good idea to rip these for posterity?

As Rotcoddam says:

A once prized collection. All the cassettes in the world are out there patiently waiting as stray magnetic fields reduce their signals to a quiet mufflled hiss.
Posted 4 weeks ago.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Cintas de Cassettes (QDEP)

Cintas de Cassettes (QDEP)
Originally uploaded by JairoB.
The aesthetics of the compact cassette now has retro appeal, but there were many avid fans of the form of tapes back in the day. This photo was also used over on the Music Thing for a post called "The strange world of German cassette collectors". Tom comments,

...I was so intrigued to find someone paying over $100 for an old blank cassette tape that I've been looking into this shady network...

Since starting this research, I have been gathering contributions in the flickr group, and also posting some other links and stories here from other blogs etc. I have also now added an email address to which people can submit stories, pictures or what have you. PLease feel free to contact me at this address or to send your photos and stories. It may be a bit easier.

This is an exerpt from a friends email, who had some memories around tape collecting.

I wish I had access to my mix tape collection now, real timepieces.

Funny, about a week before I got your email (below) I was looking at a cassette tape, think it was a Teac or something, but it's grat how they become such a designed item above their own function. Remember when the big window ones came out? WOW, look all that tape. Then the transparent ones after that.....woahza!

thanks evil-e ! =)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Lives In The Archives; The history of music on a cassette tape -

I found this great article, (somehow through my network on myspace) by Steven Rosen. He discusses the importance of his tape collection as it has pertained to his work as a journalist.

Sometimes the content of cassette tapes is not music. In fact, the blankness of the media allowed the public free expression of recording and it was often used for discussion, interviews, personal letters, etc. As it was his profession, Steves interviews (with some of rocks all time greats) were being held secret protected from public access, but I think he has changed his mind about the use of this content.
It wasn’t like I experienced a moment of epiphany and thought, “OK, world, now I’ll let you into the inner sanctum.” Nothing so grand or glorious. I just, in all honesty, saw how much my buddy dug it, and I thought maybe other people might get off on the interviews as well.

Because I knew, as hard as I tried to recreate those events, extracting from my head and heart the exact words and the perfect adjectives, you would never hear what truly transpired. You would never know what Keith really sounded like, how he adopted this crisp and proper English vernacular when making a serious point; how, drunk beyond all human understanding as he downed drink after drink, he was able to speak in a voice that only barely registered as intoxicated, but overflowed with true joy and open honesty in revealing his undying love of the band.

And that’s what this archive represents to me and I believe, will mean to you.

Coming soon. I will post samples of 'letter tapes', I have had in my family for over 30 years.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Picture 355

Picture 355
Originally uploaded by DwarfMcDougal.
Labelling is an important part of organization and communication. The 'blank' tape cassette could be imprinted with any meaning, message or metaphor of the authors choosing. As well, many different methods could be used from the elaboratly artisitc, to the simply informational.

DwarfMcDougal , pokes fun at the meta labelling that occurs in this photo, with "note on notes". The notes feature in flickr is really handy I have to say, and any effort to include notes (or descriptions, or tags) to contributions to the project is greatly appreciated.

Monday, August 14, 2006



Originally uploaded by ellectric.
This slogan was seen quite a bit in the 80's and this is a great example of its use, stamped on the inside sleeve of a vinyl record. With each new media format, it seems like there is fear from the industry that is built on the older format, and tapes were no exception.

This from wikipedia
...the slogan of a 1980s anti-piracy campaign by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), a British music industry trade group. With the rise in cassette recorder popularity, the BPI feared that home taping would cause a decline in record sales. The logo, consisting of a skull and crossbones formed from the silhouette of a cassette, also included the words And it's illegal.

The logo itself i find fantastic, and of course was 'remixed' onto tshirts by some clever entrepreneurs. via boing boing 2005

Some stats of the media usage over the last 50 years would be useful for me. how the rise of portable media grew from LP'S through 8-track and compact cassette, and finally to CD's, all of the "pre-mp3' formats. Most of the information on it, seems to be focussed on how the new tech drives down sales of the old, no surprise there. But is the technology itself completly responsible for 'music' sales in general as the recording industry has been quick to whine about? This story from the BBC (2004) is a good place to start anyway.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


window tapes

window tapes
Originally uploaded by kempes.
Now that the compacts cassettes "time has passed" as it were, the aesthetic quality they have as a physical object continues to be perpeputed in the arts. As in this brilliant photo of a 'stained glass cassette window'..

Cruising around the the "cassette" tag in fact, I have come across the image of tape cassettes in the most interesting places. Not the least of which are as subjects for artists.

Right now I am looking at this shot of "retro media" from an exhibition in melbourne, a cassette artwork that looks like it was designed to be a poster or wallpaper, and lastly the image of a tape can even adorne the human body. amazing!

The aesthetics of the media itself is a quality lost in the digial environment as all interaction with the technology occurs via the interface, wether in iTunes, or on the iPod. There is no media 'there' any more.

Monday, August 07, 2006


cheesy android music

Originally uploaded by i-shan.
WIth the mixtape, we were for the first time (en masse) able to give a specific mix to another person. This was a new way to express oneself and great care and attention was given to the creation of these media artefacts.

My project isnt really about mixtapes, it is about collecting, archiving, storing and sorting, and how that is expressed in both the physical and digital spaces.

What is interesting about the mixtape in relation to my project however, was just how special an artefact the mixtape became, and how worthy it was of collecting, and saving. That they could be made at all, customized, 'packaged', and presented to another, is a quality of the physical artefact that is difficult to replicate. There are many decent attempts at recreating this experience on the web, and I have set up this flickr discussion to gather more, and see how people feel about the existing ones.

Visit there if you want to look up some good, music mixing websites, or see if your favorite one is already there.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Zan Hoffman's Cassette Obsession

Zan responded to a post I made on the Yahoo Discussion group, and also set up an account on flickr to join the project image pool. Thanks Zan!

The name of his blog says it all, Zan Hoffman's Cassette Obsession is truely that. His collection is large, and he writes about managing the scale of so many tapes. His blog documents where his collection started, and the shelving he implemented to house the final display.

In the flickr discussions, he says...
I have 900 tapes in the attic that are not home-taping related. The rest of my collection is downstairs in my studio. I recently counted them all: 5470 cassettes.
I am not sure I have that much digital music. The picture above however, contain mostly Zans' and his networks original recordings and those he collects by trading. Zan is a true media 'producer', and has much more than commerical music occupying his collection. In fact as far as the Yahoo group is concerned, it seems to be largley comprised of other such musicians that still use the cassette to document their work. Zan has some unique insights on some of the qualities of this media format.
Heat, moisture and playing them in bad cassette decks will destroy tapes, but in my experience even the crappiest brand tapes from the 60's still hold up as long as you take care of them. Doubt we'll be able to say that about cdrs.
By far this is the most extensive collection I have seen documented on the internet, and I do not think it is going to be 'digitized' anytime soon. Check out Zan's home page.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Retro Media

Over on ...this thing called life, a post about some retro media turning up while doing some cleaning.

I found this sealed blank tape while looking through some old CD's. And I believe it's at least 16-17 years. I'll be keeping this for memories sake since this is the only one I have. So, do you still have some cassette tapes still laying around?

The nostalgia surrounding tape cassettes is interesting. I will be posting more on this soon, but there is a certain aesthetics associated with this old media. Artists regularly take up this image to exploit for their own purposes.

I still do have some tapes lying around, although no sealed ones like this. And of course there are many more pictures of tapes in the flickr pool.


Cassette Jam '05

Cassette Jam '05
Originally uploaded by *Rebelo.
Googling around for 'cassettes', there are many references to the Cassette Jam '05 site, which is a massive page chock full of images of peoples cassettes. I cant understand what the project was originally for, but it looks like people submitted pictures of specifi cassette tapes.

The link must have changed however, because everysingle one I have found is broken, which made me very frustrated, until I managed to track down the new page. If you have been looking around for this page this is your lucky day, for the first time this year (I believe) here is the updated link to Cassette Jam '05.

I wonder if there is going to be a Cassette Jam '06?

Friday, August 04, 2006


the mix

the mix
Originally uploaded by donger.
Two interesting aspects of cassette culture notable in this photo. First of all, the tape is being played in the car. For so many years, tape decks were the standard music technology that came in your vehicle. If you have an older car, you may very well STILL have the old tape deck in there. I have received several references to the fact that people have to hang on to at least SOME part of their old cassette collection, just so they have some tunes for road trips.

Secondly, the theme mix. This is apparently a "break up tape". I have one of those noted on the picture of my collection I have added to the flickr group. Another popular one might be called the "mating ritual" mix as it was the beginnings and endings of relationships, that were so often marked by a mixtape.

All this from some rather generic looking compact cassette.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


iPod vs. The Cassette

No Name No Slogan labs tests this years must-have device against one of the all time great audio formats...

I am not sure when this was posted, but it comes up highly when searching for cassette tapes. Its a hilarious analysis of old media versus new, regardless. Although it is fairly "tongue-in-cheek", some real insights are shown into the nature of cassettes as a media form through the comparitive analysis.


casetes de mario

casetes de mario
Originally uploaded by m e r c e n a r i o.
Many peoples cassette collections looks like this, just before they hit the trash. This is one of the reasons I think this research is so interesting, because it examines a technology whose time has past, yet the remnanants still exist in the back of our closets, attics or in boxes under the bed. Some of theses tapes are easy to dispose of, yet others are more difficult to throw away. I am guessing tapes that have more personal signifigance, that have had large investments of time put into them, or that are still awaiting to be updated in a newer technology, have a greater likelihood to be saved.

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