Circular Records

©Fara Peluso and Kat Austen - 2022

In collaboration with

Ars Electronica, the support of Johannes Kepler University Linz, Innovationshauptplatz of the City of Linz.

Co-funded by

STARTS programme of the European Union

0 CR project ©KAusteFPeluso

Circular Records is an ongoing artistic research project addressing the problems of materiality and resources consumption for environmentally motivated new media art by developing a viable replacement for vinyl in record production. Vinyl is highly polluting in its production and requires extraction and consumption of fossil fuels to source the material. While some recycled plastic vinyl is available, this still embodies our addiction to fossil fuels and plastic.

Circular Records aims to develop a record production process that uses sustainable biomaterials to achieve reproduction across a range of audio aesthetics. The prototype album for this process is This Land Is Not Mine, an experimental music album about changing identity in a landscape transitioning away from open cast mining. The project challenges fossil fuel resource use for artist production purposes and focuses on the development of an alternative material based on biohybrids that, while capturing carbon, also should not pollute, if and when it reaches its end of life. 

We will build on existing material development research to achieve the material properties required to convey audio on a new bioplastic. At the same time, novel manufacturing methods for bioplastic LP cutting will be tested. The motivation for this work comes from the urgent global need to address our relationship to resources and consumption. In this context, environmentally oriented arts face a crisis of opposing values regarding the environmental impact of artist products. 

Artistic outputs have a high environmental footprint for production, which is especially the case for most forms of music delivery: digital resources have both carbon footprints for information sharing and the hardware required for storage relies on mining and extractive industries. Records, cassettes and CDs rely on extraction of fossil fuels for plastic production, and can be highly polluting and wasteful in the production process.

For Circular Records the focus is to develop new materials and fabrication processes to make bioplastic discs with the required properties to act as material for LP production. Aside from the production of a prototype bioplastic LP record, the project holds the potential for adding to the knowledge base of bioplastic material production and material properties alongside developing manufacturing techniques to handle them.

Circular Records was funded through a STARTS residency at Ars Electronica as part of the Repairing the Present project (2022)

CR record player
1 - Lab_EymeltSehmerlite2