Towards the end of the 1800s, there were three primary American groups competing to invent technology to record and play back audio. Alexander Graham Bell worked with with Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell in at their Volta Laboratory in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., while Thomas A. Edison worked from his Menlo Park facilities, and Emile Berliner worked in his independent laboratory in his home. To secure the rights to their inventions, the three groups sent samples of their work to the Smithsonian. These recordings became part of the permanent collections, now consisting of 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made. But knowledge of their contents was limited to old, short descriptions, as the rubber, beeswax, glass, tin foil and brass recording media are fragile, and playback devices might damage the recordings, if such working devices are even available. That is, until a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came together to make 2D and 3D optical scanners, capable of visually recording the patterns marked on discs and cylinders, respectively. [more inside]
”Björk's album covers have always been visual feasts, reflecting the spirit of the music inside while helping to maintain Björk's status as a brilliant artist.” Artwork released for Björk’s upcoming album, Volta, was widely assumed to be the new cover. Thus, the official cover that’s been revealed has divided, dismayed, amused, or delighted fans and critics all over the place in the past couple of weeks. Pitchfork interviews Björk herself on the album-cover and more, and she talks about the making of Volta here: Part I, Part II (YouTube).