Buffington, Ron; McNair, Jonathan
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
Music is a foundation of our popular culture. With music’s distribution far and wide, songs, lyrics, and melodies can be familiar to people from all backgrounds, connecting us through a shared cultural experience. Songs can also be deeply personal and take on sentimental meaning, taking us back to specific moments, feelings, or times in our own lives. Since the 1940s, when album art was invented, graphic design and music have been inseparable, informing individuals’ personal and cultural identity. In recent decades, digital technology has disembodied the human experience, including our consumption of music and design. In response to this dematerialization, my research explores how analog technology, specifically the cassette tape and the vinyl album, can trigger nostalgia and sentimentality in an audience. My audio-visual installation is centered around a series of mixtapes, compiled from songs that carry sentimental value to 15 people. Since each mixtape is a collage of memories from many different walks of life, the tapes invite listeners to imagine a different mode of coherence – one that doesn’t rely on genre or style but on memory and life itself as a unifying element. These tapes are encased in custom, handcrafted album cases, each with its own thematic imagery and poster. With their distinct novelty, materiality, and intimacy, the albums give form to individuals’ stories and invite us to consider how we are participants in a collective human experience.
My thesis director, Matt Greenwell, thesis committee members Ron Buffington and Jonathan McNair, and Graphic Design professor Becky Nasadowski were instrumental in my project's success. Special thanks to my close friends and family, who anonymously shared their sentimental songs and personal stories with me for the mixtapes and poster designs.
B. F. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Mixtapes; Audiocassettes; Nostalgia; Sound recordings--Social aspects
Montague, Sadie, "Creator as audience: mixtape albums as an expression of life and memory" (2023). Honors Theses.