Friday, January 2, 2009

Should Recycled Vinyl Record Art Make Me So Sad?

Necklace Crafted from Vinyl Record by Vling

Even though sales of vinyl records are up, and vinyl enthusiasts are still a force to be reckoned with; I've seen a counter-trend of the destruction of vinyl albums in the name of nostalgic art. Although the objects look really cool and probably appeal to record-loving hipsters and green consumers, I can't help but feel twinges of sadness about the vinyl destruction and loss of the music.

Vinylux Recycled Record Bowl

According to a description in the Uncommon Goods catalog, "Designer Jeff Davis brings vinyl back with decorative bowls and sealed coasters made from vintage LPs." One of the bowls shown was crafted from Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town, so perhaps I shouldn't be so sad as there are probably thousands and thousands of surviving copies.

In the same catalog, there is recycled record jewelry. Necklaces and earrings shaped like cassette tapes, record inserts, and headphones are carved out of old vinyl records. Additionally, some handmade mixed material clocks by Minnesota artist Debra Dresler incorporate vinyl records into the design.

Paul Villinski's Vinyl Butterflies

Finally, a recent art piece in New York by Paul Villinski actually featured the destruction of the artist's own record collection. According to a review in the Wall Street Journal,

"Butterflies had been meticulously cut from vinyl records with a scroll saw, their colorful labels forming the body of the insect; they soared out of a vintage record player sitting on the floor, and fanned across the wall. It is breathtaking, at once whimsical and, oddly bittersweet. 'The soundtrack of my life,' as the artist described it, included records by Van Morrison, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Fleetwood Mac. He listened to each one last time before engineering its reincarnation; the piece has the resonance of a fairy tale."

Perhaps I shouldn't feel too sad. Vinylux is the artist/company that creates the vinyl bowls, coasters, etc. and on their website's FAQ section they explain why I should relax about all of this:

Q. Don’t you feel bad about ruining all of those records?

A. No, because once you start looking for lots and lots of records, you quickly find that there are lots and lots and lots and lots of records out there. Billions. And because we purchase our vinyl from dealers and collectors, most of the “good stuff” (i.e. valuable) has been picked out already. Most of the records we get are scratched, warped, or otherwise played-out.

I suppose if these records are just headed for the landfill anyway, then vinyl art is nothing for me to be getting all worked up about. Maybe I will get one of those 45rpm-covered spiral notebooks that I've been eying at my local bookstore after all....

Daniel Edlen's Original Painting on Vinyl

P.S. I had to add the above image to this post after hearing from Daniel Edlen about his Vinyl Art. He paints original portraits directly onto vinyl LPs and the results are quite haunting, especially since many of the subjects are dead (Johnny Cash, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain, John Lennon). His work also sort of reminds me of the old Tower Records calendar art (my 1980s Deborah Harry poster is a prized possession) that was so cool back in the day.


Daniel Edlen said...

I wonder what you think about my work?

Jennifer Waits said...

Thanks for passing along your Vinyl Art site. I'll have to add a PS to my piece.

All I can say is Wow. The portraits that you paint on vinyl are quite haunting, definitely adding a ghostly quality to the records. I was also happy to read on your site that:

"I try to find records that are already damaged to the point they might be thrown away..."

Anonymous said...

That's a real great art. I find it amusing to watch those butterfly vinyls. Fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm the creator of VLING, and you'll be happy to know that I'm an avid vinyl collector and the vinyl used in my work is mostly error pressing rejects from vinyl plants. I sometimes use scratched/damaged records that I find when buying old collections.

So don't worry!

I hope that my work, as well as the other artists you've mentioned will bring a new life to vinyl, and remind people that cd's and mp3's are not the only way!

Jennifer Waits said...

Hey thanks! That's really cool. I've heard that from other vinyl artists as well and it is reassuring. It's nice to hear that you are a collector too.

susan said...

I feel the same way and I use records in my work as well. My rule is I don't destroy anything valuable or collectible. Mostly poor grade vinyl. Personally, I really struggle with the record bowls because I know they are not going to last and will end up in the garbage when they crack after being handled with any weight in them.