Monday, May 2, 2016

Mixtape Project


I got it in my head to produce a mix tape of music to share with friends. There were a couple of obstacles: nobody, including myself, has a cassette player any more and audio tapes are difficult to get hold of nowadays.

I found a tested cassette deck at Goodwill ReStore for $20. 


I ordered blank cassette tapes from Amazon. High bias tapes are about $8 each, so I opted for seven normal bias tapes for about $15.


I also purchased a cassette player that would transfer audio over USB. It turned out to be a piece of junk that did not work: the Play button did not stay down. Fortunately I still had my wife's ruggedized Sony Sports Walkman.


The mixtape was built from my vinyl record collection. It was eclectic but flowed very nicely. It was a trip making a mix tape again: cueing up the records, adjusting the recording levels to get a high enough level without saturating the tape, trying to put together a narrative with the songs.








I built a google form and asked my friends who wanted to hear the tape to fill out their shipping information. Eight people responded!

The Walkman tape and covers were packaged in a cigar box that was sanded and repainted. There is an inch of egg carton foam above and below the contents, firmly sandwiching them in place and protecting them from shock during shipment.







The project was shipped to the first recipient today.


Each recipient is asked to reflect upon the songs and experiences in another google form either as they listen to the tape or afterwards. The reflections will be posted later as part of the documentation of this project.

This interactive art piece combined a low-tech approach to file sharing with the intimacy of listening to a bespoke mixtape on headphones. Although our technology has progressed to the point where we can fit thousands of songs on our ever-present digital devices, this project's low tech approach kindles nostalgia and reveals the limitations in what was once a widespread convenient media format, the audio cassette tape. Lossy, hissy, prone to tangles and bound to wear out, the cassette tape is an artifact of times past when we shared our music in a more intimate and personal manner.

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