The Aura of Sound Sculpture: The Vinyl Record as a Sign and Action Carrier of Social Transformations in Digitization.

The presentation will focus on the so-called vinyl culture, which has rediscovered the vinyl record as a storage and playback medium as well as a devotional object despite the very far-reaching market penetration of CD, DVD, MP3 and streaming services. The question is whether and how the vinyl record and vinyl record player have changed after their “rebirth” while the material basis has remained the same, in which new practices of action they are integrated, who the actors of these new practices are, and which social and historical shifts are documented in this return to the vinyl record.

Since the mid-2000s, the vinyl record has been re-establishing itself in a robust and dynamic niche market. While vinyl record collecting had never disappeared as a social practice, it has since reached younger digital natives. Art forms such as turntablism and specific performative sociocultural practices such as DJing had always preserved the vinyl record storage format. In addition, there is a (sometimes mythically charged) technical discourse around sonic superiority.

In this context, Reynolds (2012) sees a cultural retrotrend (“retromania”) of both musical content (recourse to old forms of musical expression) and form (nostalgic recourse to old data carriers). The social perspective of such a retrospective in politically and technologically uncertain times of upheaval is by no means to be disregarded. The pop-culturally formed object record thus contains meanings and conditions practices that go far beyond the contents inscribed in its materiality. Form and content fall apart. The vinyl record as a material object seems to have an inherent aura, it seems to be conceivable as a sign-like myth of everyday life, it entails human actions that can be both individual and social-collective in nature.

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