Self-Destructing Tape Loops

This set of videos, via Portland-based audio + visual artist Randall Taylor (AMULETS), explores the idea of self-destructing tape loops.

Here’s what Taylor has to say about it:

I’ve had a tape reel covered in sandpaper for a while with the intention of destroying a tape loop on purpose. I was recently motivated to finish this project by watching Simon the Magpie challenge Hainbach to destroy some reel to reel loops.

Unlike Hainbach (and the inevitable William Basinski comparison), I wanted to go smaller and build a cassette tape loop that decayed within the cassette shell.

Through a lot of trial and error I was able to design a self-destructive, self-contained cassette that not only eroded the magnetic tape, but could also be reused and reloaded with different loops for continued future experiments.

The second video documents the gradual destruction of his tape loop over the span of an hour:

4 thoughts on “Self-Destructing Tape Loops

  1. I will take William Basinski as the standard here, everthing else is derivative. But it is fun to reproduce the effect of slowly demagnetized tape.

    1. If Basinski had used tapes with a better manufacturing technique, then he wouldn’t have been known for the Disintegration Loops. The original tape oxide was flaking off as it was played, due to it being so old. I have had the same problem, but with cheap video tape. (Yes, it was really coming off the backing. Left quite a mess inside the VCR.)

      Now, on to synthesis: Something like the Magnetophon Module is useful, but remember to buy the extra head to use it with a wand. Or if it were mounted to a keyboard, like next to the control wheels, that would also be good.

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