Bowling me over

A vendor in my local Farmers Market sells these bowls, made by warming LPs and folding them over a mold or crimping them by hand.

Scanning the records I thankfully didn’t notice anything that jumped out at me as being terribly valuable, but then again 33-1/3RPM discs are not my forte, so I might have missed one. Regardless of the value of the records, though, it reminded me of some repurposed books that I’ve seen manufactured into pieces of furniture.

I have mixed feelings about these. Friend-of-the-blog Tarquin Tar has often written about the value of the book as an important and worthwhile object in itself – the book is more than the story on its pages. It has a story its own, and an intrinsic value beyond whatever the words within are about. It has provenance, ownership history, and even artistic qualities of its own (binding, jacket illustrations, etc).

Is the same true of records? With rare exception they are simply black shellac discs. Some may have illustrative elements – picture records, decorative labels, sleeves, and so forth. The content contained can exist on any other media and still be the primary artistry of the album. Consider those 78s in my collection that I have featured here (and many I have not yet) that do not exist digitally on the web or on any CDs. Their value is in their scarcity first and their musical quality second, in most cases. Rarely do the two meet: truly great tracks are hardly ever scarce. But that has little to nothing to do with the media.

But the media is scarce, too. These LPs will never again be made. Something about that fact saddens me, even though I know can find these exact tracks as MP3 or on CD very easily.

So, I put it to you. Record bowls: heart breaking destruction of someone else’s art or acceptable/creative work of art of their own? Or both? Or something else entirely?

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