For as long as it’s been possible people have been keeping records. That’s what letters and journals were, what photographs were, what tapes (video or audio) were. Then we went to digital and the keeping part changed a little. Disks and CDs and CF cards kind of keep. And then the clouds pixelated and the keeping was all done by far away by businesses on media of unknown type.
I can buy a box of old photographs, or a carton of tapes of many types. I’ve never stumbled upon a crate of old MySpace servers.
The joke is the internet is forever. Deleted tweets and compromising snaps can always be found. But not the way I can find a families vacation to Tahiti recored in magnetic polarity on a thin tape in a little plastic shell. I don’t mean the digital dark age. I mean the obscurity by propriety that exists now. Unless they were kept locally and the device wasn’t reset we’ll never get to see Courtney and Thad’s spring break decades down the line.
Microcassette is an odd choice. As far as I know they’re always mono and are really only meant for speech. Recording a performance put on for tourists makes sense if you’re a tourist. I picture an ocean shore at night, a dance floor on the level of the spectators who may be pulled in by the performers. The scene is torchlit and the air smells of heat and salt. The casual sexism of the male voices makes the recording seem tainted somehow. The concern over cameras and batteries, tired legs, feel so normal.
The found audio made available here was transcoded from a 60 minute Olympus microcassette. Red marker labels each side with the word “Tahiti” and in pen each side is also labeled with a circled number one. Side A is also marked “Schultz” and “Blib??”. Side B is has only the still indecipherable “Blib??”