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July 28, 2010 4:34 AM   Subscribe

Artist Scott Marr carves vintage records by hand with a dremel.
posted by gman (45 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think he should call it "Doodling with a Dremel." And it bothers me a little that he is destroying those old records to do it.
posted by crunchland at 4:46 AM on July 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Those probably wouldn't sound very good but they look cool. I would hang one on my wall.
posted by XMLicious at 4:49 AM on July 28, 2010


Oh, I'm torn on this one. On the one hand, it's really interesting-looking work. On the other, it seems to be such a waste of vintage records. On the other hand, would the carvings look as great if he used old K-Tel novelty song records for them? On the other hand, why should every collectable be a sacred cow?

That's too many hands, which, on the other hand, may be just what art is all about.
posted by xingcat at 4:49 AM on July 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


The local flea market has huge bins full of vinyl records for mere pennies, most of them crap.

Although if I were him, I'd probably digitize the thing (using gold cables, natch) before carving it up.
posted by DU at 4:53 AM on July 28, 2010


How these records were made. Not vinyl, but shellac.
posted by crunchland at 5:05 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


He mars them.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:09 AM on July 28, 2010


I know this is picky, but to me "by hand with a dremel" doesn't work well, is awkward, and sounds misleading. I figure you're differentiating from doing it with some motion control mechanism with a dremel, but.
posted by kalessin at 5:10 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


They look pretty cool, but I hope he at least checks to make sure these aren't ultra rare records before he carves them!
posted by Pants McCracky at 5:20 AM on July 28, 2010


When I saw the FPP, I thought it was about a guy who somehow uses a handheld dremel to carve flawless, playable reproductions of classic albums, and I was prepared to be amazed.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:22 AM on July 28, 2010 [36 favorites]


I misunderstood in exactly the same way Faint of Butt did. These are cool too, though.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:30 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are plenty of old 78s that aren't the least bit rare, have already been digitized & released on CD, and that are worn out enough that this in a much better repurposing than the landfill. I think they're beautiful, and I'd buy one if I had the scratch.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:45 AM on July 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


He mars them.

Johnny Marred the Smiths.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:46 AM on July 28, 2010


Also looks like he specializes (in every other blog post) in pyrography and using natural pigments.
posted by kalessin at 5:54 AM on July 28, 2010


Yeah, don't cry for the lost records--there's stacks of this stuff around, and almost none of it is worth anything.

I honestly was also hoping he was actually carving playable records, but this is pretty cool, though totally not my personal style. Still, the idea of it is cool enough that I am tempted to bust out my own Dremel and take a trip to the thrift store and see what happens.
posted by padraigin at 5:59 AM on July 28, 2010


Yes, I was with Faint of Butt and kobayashi, and thought these were going to be records with hand-etched grooves.

Although the records he uses are probably (I hope!) scratched beyond any reasonable hope of playability, carving them up like this still bothers me. There's a lot more to these than most of the abuses perpetrated on vinyl records, but there's something about cavalierly and irreversibly destroying the information contained on them that gets to me.
posted by usonian at 6:01 AM on July 28, 2010


there's something about cavalierly and irreversibly destroying the information contained on them that gets to me.

He's only destroying one copy of the information. We don't know exactly how careful he is about his selection of 78s to carve up, but I seriously doubt any otherwise irretrievable music is being lost. 78s are pretty durable, unlike, say, movie prints of that era.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:05 AM on July 28, 2010


I'm still thinking about this. One man, a dremel, a sheet of blank vinyl, several weeks of buzzing noises... it's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band!

Seriously, how cool would that be?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:09 AM on July 28, 2010


78s are pretty durable

What? Shellac is brittle as all-hell.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:15 AM on July 28, 2010


How these records were made. Not vinyl, but shellac.

Strange. They're saying wax to cut the records, and shellac to stamp onto. Today, we use shellac for the cutting and vinyl for the stamping -- and with mastering to tape, part of the mastering process was to cut a lacquer from the master tapes, and then play it. Studios would not only have the high quality reproduction systems used for making the master, they'd have an average LP player, amp and speakers, so that they'd hear the record played as the listener would.

If it sounded good, you'd cut several others lacquers with the same settings. The first three would go for reproduction. While you could recut the lacquer from the master tapes, tapes also lose a little bit of fidelity with each playing, so you made the repro lacquers as soon as you knew the cutter was good. Then you made a stack for the band and friends.

Then you threw a party.
posted by eriko at 6:18 AM on July 28, 2010


Pavel Sidorenko makes wall clocks with vinyl.
posted by crunchland at 6:25 AM on July 28, 2010


Johnny Marred made the Smiths.

FTFY.

...and realistically, I've trashed enough vinyl to choke back my initial shock at this. They are quite pretty.
posted by pompomtom at 6:28 AM on July 28, 2010


What? Shellac is brittle as all-hell.

Glass is brittle, but it's a durable material. Sure, shellac is brittle, but I guess my point would be that no real special effort needs to be taken to preserve them other than not dropping them on a tile floor, and quite enough have survived 70 or 80 years that they're not rare for the most part, as in the information is going to go extinct, like with film.

We need to get some archivists up in this post, but I think that on a shelf, they're really not going to degrade just sitting there. Well, maybe over centuries, but for now, a nice cover and some AC should do the trick. Rare vinyl releases will probably become scarce faster than old 78s as vinyl warps with just a little heat.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:29 AM on July 28, 2010


History of shellac records, made from crushed beetles, and why they stopped making records out of it.
posted by crunchland at 6:29 AM on July 28, 2010


How these records were made. Not vinyl, but shellac.

Somewhere, Steve Albini's head just imploded.
posted by timsteil at 6:39 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's only destroying one copy of the information. We don't know exactly how careful he is about his selection of 78s to carve up, but I seriously doubt any otherwise irretrievable music is being lost. 78s are pretty durable, unlike, say, movie prints of that era.

Oh, I know that more old records are worthless and not rare than not, but it still bothers me. Whether it's some 78 collector's holy grail or some god-awful no-name vanity-pressed album found in a thrift store, it's the disregard for the thing's original purpose that evokes a negative reaction in me. (I don't know why I get hung up on records and books but not, say, repurposed old Macs.)
posted by usonian at 6:41 AM on July 28, 2010


repurposed old Macs

OUTRA... Oohh, cufflinks.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:55 AM on July 28, 2010


This really, really, REALLY bothers me for some reason.
posted by grubi at 7:04 AM on July 28, 2010


NNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
posted by msconduct at 7:13 AM on July 28, 2010


When I got into used bookselling, one thing that always shocked me (and still does) is finding out just how little many incredibly old books are worth on the market. I'd find a beautifully illustrated children's book from the early 19th century and think, "My God, I can't believe this artifact from nearly two centuries ago still exists!" And then discover that people are selling it online for $2.

I don't know that reverence for old objects is necessarily a good thing -- I think it can contribute to an idolatry of (and enslavement to) material objects, not to mention pathological hoarding -- but I also can't help but be a little horrified by wanton disrespect for exquisitely-crafted objects several times older than myself. It's just this weird, reflexive, deeply ingrained response.
posted by Pants McCracky at 7:28 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


For his next project, Scott Marr with turn this antique chippendale chair into toothpicks.
posted by crunchland at 7:32 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Records somehow deserve better. The artist is obviously talented and not necessarily coming at this from a position of disrespect, but these are records. I feel the same way when I see the Sgt. Pepper movie soundtrack made into a popcorn bowl. It's still kinda like someone defaced a religious artifact.

The labels on those records are beautiful, especially that Australian Decca label.
posted by mintcake! at 7:40 AM on July 28, 2010


1. Scott Marr appears to have "carved vintage records by hand with a dremel" precisely once. It seems that what he does mostly is to make dippy illustrations with natural dyes and pigments*.

2. Assuming the records used weren't in any way rare, I think the main issue should be that the artworks themselves are perhaps kind of catastrophically ugly. Not as ugly as those horrific melted-record bowls that people make, but still.

---
*I do quite like his approach to materials, though I find the destruction of records to make decorative objects mildly irritating—I am, however, perfectly unmoved by his chosen subject matter.

posted by wreckingball at 7:41 AM on July 28, 2010


I am, however, perfectly unmoved by his chosen subject matter.

I respectfully disagree.
posted by mintcake! at 7:45 AM on July 28, 2010


Much like with books, there are far more old records than there are people who are interested in listening to them.

There was a rare-vinyl, 45s-only DJ mix a while back called 'Brainfreeze,' and subtitled something like 'An Exercise in Vinyl Destruction.' Records wear out. It's not just scratching, either. Every time a record is played, it moves closer to oblivion. Poorly-adjusted players and worn-out styli make it worse.

What's my point? I dunno--maybe something about entropy, or about how art can simultaneously preserve and destroy the art that came before it.

Now, does anybody have a link to a version of Slow Fires that I can watch on my iPhone?
posted by box at 7:49 AM on July 28, 2010


I got the same initial wince of pain, but now, not so much. I like to think he's not so stupid as to put the drill to anything before checking the market value for a given title. (Unlike the atrocious Jake and DInos Chapman fellows some posts back who vandalized Goya prints for the sake of "art". I'd like to art them, and art them good.)

For those concerned about rarity, check this out for starters. I expect Mr Marr can source throw away stuff from the experts.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:35 AM on July 28, 2010


In Portland, you can drop by Everyday Music daily and their dumpster will be full of old records like this. I'd think any used record store in any city would be the same.Try not to be too outraged at this one at a time repurposing - at least he's doing something with them.
posted by Nabubrush at 8:54 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone needs to get this guy in touch with Mingering Mike. Hand-drawn pretend album covers containing ornate, unplayable records. It's the most fun you can have with music without hearing a note!
posted by JHarris at 9:41 AM on July 28, 2010


Uh, yep. It's sorta cool art, but the post seems like a bait and switch. Or just poor word choice, I guess.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:48 AM on July 28, 2010


It would be ridiculously excellent if these records were also still playable or if bands began to release vinyl that had art on it in this manner. Sure, there's been colored vinyl and sandpaper vinyl, but I mean something like these patterns just underneath the actual grooves. It would be a think piece of slab, but I say bring on the thick pieces of vinyl slab.

As for those who're up in arms about the destruction of ancient unplayable 78's, take a God damn Xanax or something people, millions of these things just wind up in dumps good to nobody, as just plain garbage, if they can be repurposed in whatever manner, or even re-furbished to work properly I'm all in.
posted by Skygazer at 11:29 AM on July 28, 2010


You guys are gonna hate my bathroom.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:53 AM on July 28, 2010


I think the problem is the idea of using something that already *was* art to be someone else's art. Sort of like I don't like the idea of hipsters carving up old books to be ironic Kindle-holders. If you need to burn the books for heat, go for it. Let the art die a humane death. But don't say it is worthless and then proceed to co-opt it for your own pleasure.
posted by gjc at 6:18 PM on July 28, 2010


I think the problem is the idea of using something that already *was* art to be someone else's art.

Indeed. I still have not forgiven IMPei or the French for this affront to Claude Perrault
posted by IndigoJones at 6:40 PM on July 28, 2010


I could've put that wheel on my fixie, Marcel, you prick.
posted by box at 6:45 PM on July 28, 2010


Sure, there's been colored vinyl and sandpaper vinyl, but I mean something like these patterns just underneath the actual grooves.

There was a brief period in which laser etching of records was popular. Styx' Paradise Theater is a good example.
posted by hippybear at 5:21 AM on July 29, 2010


Damn....that band, STYX, was like always on the cutting edge.
posted by Skygazer at 4:46 PM on July 30, 2010


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