Audio tapes are dead!

On Monday I picked up another 300+ audio tapes for my upcoming project/s.

Some people apparently cannot get rid of their own old and dated media soon enough and most are very generous when doing so — as is evident by the usually careful and sometimes even “loving” packing they use to send me along with when I come around to collect their old tapes.

Needless to say, and without exception, all people are curious and interested as to what exactly one would be doing with the thousands of old tapes (I’ve honestly lost count) that I’ve accumulated so far. Many have even asked if they’ll eventually get used as material for some work of art, like Brian Dettmer has become famous for.

Brian Dettmer cassette skeleton

Not quite as exciting, I’m afraid. The standard response at the ready is “some sort of online museum”. Most are satisfied with the answer, remain curious, and wish to be informed when it’s finally ready. Fair enough.

Other than the secretive future online museum, some of the tapes have been entered into another kind of museum — or rather a database called discogs (yes, the prodigal son has almost returned). The latest batch included this and this and even this.

One rather interesting observation, though, is that most of the respondents to my “call for old tapes” are women. Not surprisingly, they’re also the ones that adorn their cassette collections in the most colourful and decorative means.

The comparitively few men who’ve answered the call, on the other hand, are the ones who have provided the brute bulk of the lot where sheer numbers are concerned, and those (read: personal music collections) are usually sparsely labelled… simple and practical.

As far as content and musical taste is concerned, there we run the full spectrum of styles: from punk and techno to Swiss yodelling and Russian comedy via Indonesian and Polish pop bootlegs through to German childrens’ audio books — we’ve seen just about everything by now. In fact, if one were really up to it, an entire doctoral thesis could be written about the relationship between the gender, age, location, and social standing of the owner and the condition and content of the tapes in their old collections.

Some stereotypes cannot be shaken, I’m afraid.

Photo credit: Flickr

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