Art directors choice

During my annual flat clearout a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across a box stacked to the brim with dusty TDK D90s, That’s VX90s, Sony FZ1s and Maxell XLII 90s. I am, of course, talking about the humble audio cassette.

In addition to the obvious attraction of the ability to listen to music on the move with the advent of the Walkman, the cassette tape acted as a blank canvas, providing the opportunity for people to edit and customise their music easily for the first time. This DIY ethic extended to the design of the packaging itself.

In addition, it’s worth checking out the portraiture of Erika Iris Simmons and Brian Dettmer’s cassette tape skeletons – two examples of which can be seen here. Both are very inspiring artists using the medium in an inventive way.

Erika Iris Simmons
Jimmy Hendrix by Erika Iris Simmons

Brian Dettmer skull
Brian Dettmer skull

I also discovered that there is a strong collectors scene, with original blank cassettes from the late 1980s and early 1990s now reportedly fetching up to £22.50 each on Internet auction sites. Perhaps we’re in for a comeback. Here’s hoping!

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  • Laura November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I went to see the legendary Calvin Johnson (K Records, Beat Happening, Dub Narcotic Soundsystem) last weekend and he was selling mixtapes on cassettes. I told him how heartwarming it is to see someone still selling cassettes, and he replied “Yeah that’s what I still do” as if it would be silly to do mixtapes on any other medium. They were black & white, incredibly varied collections and imaginative titles.

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