Cassette Theft

cassette tapes

I went dumpster diving last night.

My youth group minister, Tim, set up a table full of free CDs and cassette tapes he no longer wanted. Fellow students rummaged through, clutching their favorite bands’ CDs in arm. I picked through slowly and asked if I could just keep the empty and/or broken leftovers.

Tim directed me to the trash can full of empty cases. I searched it for about five minutes and snatched up all of the cassette tapes off the table. I filled two Wal-Mart bags and sketched some ideas into my journal until the service started.

stealing diagram

According to Austin Kleon, every artist is asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” and the honest artist answers, “I steal them.”

The fact is – there is no originality. Everything is built on what came before.

Before I hop into a project for these cassettes, I’d like to look at what the world has to offer. I’d like to see what’s worth “stealing” and what isn’t.

jim golden cassette tapes

Things Organized Neatly is my favorite Tumblr blog, so I’ve taken an immediate liking to Jim Golden’s Cassette Tape Collection. I think I covet the process of recording precise measurements and selecting the order of the tapes.

cassette tape pacman

On a more humorous note, I learned about Paris-based artist Benoit Jammes. He creates pop culture referenced art. He says “It was sound art that became visual!” – the exact reason I see so much potential in this project.

gregor hildebrandt

I have responded immensely to Gregor Hildebrandt’s work, specifically these 2010 worksführe mich sanft…(Tocotronic)” and “gib mir einen Trunkttrank (Tocotronic)”. Each canvas is 279×179 centimeters of pure cassette tape dispersion – talk about dedication to a piece.

With this project, I would like to communicate the concept of sound in a visual, tangible way like Jammes. Perhaps adopt the neatness of Golden’s work and aim for the sophistication Hildebrandt claims.

I will share behind-the-scenes sketches on my Instagram and further work on my blog.


  1. Poppa Ken wrote:

    A wise king (Solomon)once said,
    (Ecclesiastes 1:9) What has been will be again and what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” You are right on the money Em.

    But then Solomon went on to build the most glorious temple for the Lord ever to be seen.

    • Aw- I love that. Momma said, “He built it using skills and what they [Solomons's brosephs] already knew about building. Still, it was completely not original.”

      She concurs. And so do I. Awesome. Thank you!