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Artists have invented a record player that plays music from waste plastic

The eerie creation imagines “plastic fossils” found thousands of years from now

  • Words: Isaac Muk | Photo Ujoo + Limheeyoung
  • 17 November 2022
Artists have invented a record player that plays music from waste plastic

Two Korean artists have made a record player that plays sounds from pieces of discarded plastic.

Called ‘Song From Plastic’, the device was designed by Ujoo + Limheeyoung, and the idea came from imagining intelligent life forms discovering “plastic fossils” from the human era tens of thousands of years into the future.

In a video posted by the artists, the record player can be seen playing sounds coming from lids on plastic containers, the side of a toy car and protective glasses.

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Played back are plastic musical renditions of ‘The Happy Birthday Song’, ‘Silent Night’ and Franz Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ – as well as everyday sounds, such as children laughing and singing.

In the description that accompanied their work, Ujoo and Limheeyoung wrote: “The sounds of now-extinct beings emanate from a plastic fossil discovered by an intelligent lifeform from a future tens of thousands of years from now.

“As it captures a record in plastic of different sounds – exceedingly ordinary sounds, yet ones that offer a sense of what makes human beings special – this work reflects on the meaning held by human values,” they continued. “What sort of traces should humans be leaving behind?

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“If we are going to leave a record of our ‘humanity,’ shouldn’t it be something other than plastic waste?”

The artists used technology based on Thomas Edison’s “tin foil phonograph”, a machine that would record and play back sound by indenting sound waves onto strips of tin foil.

‘Song From Plastic’ was exhibited at the Amorepacific Museum in Seoul, Korea. It would activate and start to play back sound and music if visitors stepped within 1.5 metres of the player.

The pair have history in creating works that speak to human interaction with nature. Their 2020 work ‘Machine with Tree’ placed a dead three on the end of a mechanically moving machine.

Watch a video of 'Song From Plastic below:

Isaac Muk is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter

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