Cassette Tape Art of Celebrities
If you think Etch-A-Sketch art is the last (and most creative) frontier of oddball art, then you had better hold onto your hat. The fact is that Etch-A-Sketch is created to make drawings; but cassette tape, not so much.
Princeton-based artist Erika Iris has created a series of celebrity portraits using cassette tape. I’m not talking about Iris situating full cassettes into a configuration that slightly resembles said celebrities. What Iris is able to do is truly astounding; her immaculate technique is taking the tape inside of a plastic cassette and manipulating it to look exactly like some of the most famous celebrity portraits of all-time.
The list of portraits includes John Lennon, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Marlyn Monroe among others. What makes these portraits work so well in this medium lies in the fact that the black tape is set against a grey or white background, making the details of the portrait pop. Had it not been for the empty cassette tape at the bottom of each portrait, one might believe that these were simple black-and-white reprints of the actual photographic portraits themselves.
Iris said that she was inspired to take on the series of portraits after she heard a famous quote from Gilbert Ryle. Ryle was a famous British philosopher and once commented on the human condition as such, “Humans are like cassettes – our thoughts merely wrapped in our awkward ‘body packaging.’”
I’ve never heard of Ryle myself, but it sounds like Iris pulled a great deal from a very concise quote. Iris’ series of portraits is called “Ghost in the Machine,” and for good reason. Beyond the fact that most of the portraits are of musicians and celebrities long since passed, the cassette tape itself is a dead medium. I don’t know if she’s taking donations; but if you ever see Ms. Iris, you might want to dump all your old cassettes off to her. I could get used to seeing this type of art.