Yesterday a couple of good pals and I (photos to follow) did a short ‘un’presentation at the first ever artcamp, the ‘un’conference part of the new forms festival here in vancouver. Everything went really well, considering the last minuteness of it all. We didn’t get a chance to cover all the things we had on the list, which turned out to be just fine. Brian came through with some indepth coverage and commentary (as usual) and did a fine job sharing his interest digging around in the trash bin at Value Village. James dazzled the crowd not only with the fine selection of vintage decks he had on hand, but also a breadth of knowledge about the fineries of cassette culture unsurpassed in this time, and likely previous times as well.
For this topic I have found people are quite interested in sharing their own stories, and many of the participants were eager. One of the unique qualities of cassettes, were just how “in and of the world” they were. Unlike so many of the fancy gadgets seem to be today. I’m not really sure I describe that concept the best, but its a theme I intend to build upon. Its best to let the stories speak for themselves, which is partially why I have chosen this direction in my research
There were many a DJ’s at artcamp, and not surprisingly many of these talented folks had their beginnings making music (or sound or whatever) on the early cassettes decks. One such lady (hi Marcy!) described her early ‘mixtaping’ experience which really struck me. First, for its creative brilliance, and also how clearly it expressed the usability of the cassette. It seems she was born to be a DJ, beginning from the young age of 9 Marcy loved recording, everything. Her own voice, interviews and sounds from her neighborhood as well as music either from the radio, or her folks records or wherever it was, in ‘her world’. This audio was all lovingly captured and edited on the fly, usually while she was cruising around on her rollerskates,which I’m sure would have been a sight. Apparently she has several years of these recordings (still on tape) and which her mother later applied photos of her to each of the covers corresponding to the year it was produced. A detail made even more poignant by the fact that her family had had a fire awhile ago, and she thought all of them had been lost forever, but no, the cassettes survived. Each of us got a little glassy eyed by the end of this story.
I have much, much more to process. Artcamp was an excuse for me to draw a few more minds into this reserach area, and as I suspected, an equal number of new dimensions on cassette culture became apparenet. The session stirred up another rich batch of sources for me to follow and for that I am quite thrilled. (update: I should have handed out cards pointing people to the flickr group darn it!)