While reusing the licks, riffs, and lyrics of other artists is fairly common practice in the music world today, one visual artist has begun recycling aging music collections and turning them into truly original creations. Nary a music connoisseur alive doesn't have a few cassette tapes floating around or tucked away in a closet somewhere, safely out of sight. Tubthumping, anyone? But instead of letting those tapes rot away, or worse, fall into the hands of future generations--with a little creativity, they could be turned into real masterpieces that you won't be afraid to show your kids.
Artist Erica Iris Simmons creates portraits with recycled material most people would never think to work with--the ribbon inside cassette tapes. And with the compact disc having rendered whole album collections antiquated, there is no shortage of material to work with. The only limitation, it would seem, is the imagination--which is lacking in so many albums from the 90s. I'm looking at you, Creed!
Simmons, who works under the pseudonym Iri5, first stumbled upon the idea to transform cassettes into portraits after noting a similarity between a pile of unrolled film and the Jimmy Hendrix's untamed locks. She soon set out to make her first piece: a portrait of the rock idol himself.
According to the artist, creating new forms with recycled material is part of what makes her work so special.
It feels great to work with strange, older materials. Things that have a mind of their own. Most everything I use has been thrown away or donated at some point. Past its prime, like some of the finest things in the world.
Simmons' work is not limited to recycling cassette tapes, however. Her work includes the use of a number of non-traditional mediums, like film tape, playing cards, magazine clipping, and "whatever I can find," she says. It is this imagination, this ability to rethink everyday objects into new forms that make Simmons, and other artists like her, so relevant in a day and age that produces so much trash--whether it be plastic bottles, cigarette butts, or Limp Bizkit.