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Artist turns vinyl-record collection into interactive installation

"All of these records were well played and well loved, and at some point, they were discarded."

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Record time: Paul Rosenblatt shares his LP collection
  • Photo by Danielle Fox
  • Record time: Paul Rosenblatt shares his LP collection

Letting someone rummage through your music collection is like baring your neck — exposing your Spears next to your Smiths, and revealing all sorts of questionable tastes

Paul Rosenblatt made an interactive art installation out of doing just that. Then, he invited the entire city

Rosenblatt, the principal of Springboard Design, opened Well Played, Paul's Vinyl Records at 707 Penn Gallery in September, as part of the Pittsburgh Biennial. The storefront space is filled with roughly 15,000 used records, which he urges you to rake through and pass to the in-house DJ. A live stream on his website displays audio and video of these transactions, and visitors can ask the DJ to play one of the 925 records listed online.

"The thing that interests me — and this is where the title of the show comes from — is that all of these records were well played and well loved, and at some point, they were discarded," Rosenblatt says. "For me, the beauty of this show is it picks up where that left off, in a way."

Rosenblatt, 55, grew up in a family of music-lovers, inheriting his obsession as a "blood defect." The architect also ran a popular, now-defunct music blog, "Vinyl Record Architect."

A couple years back, Rosenblatt asked the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Murray Horne about turning his personal 2,000-album collection into an art installation. Rather than have Rosenblatt use his own LPs, Horne gave him a budget and told him to "blow the whole thing on records."

Some 15,000 cheap but eclectic albums from Jerry's Records later, the collection isn't his, but still feels personal. Rosenblatt's art hangs above the racks, and he comments on the albums through blurbs on selected pieces. "It is sort of like the experience of going into a record store with someone else you know and have them whisper in your ear and tell you about something you came across," Rosenblatt says

On Nov. 8 and Nov. 9, Rosenblatt plans to hold a closing party and sell the house, unloading the records at "ridiculously cheap prices."

"We get to pause and think about who owned these records before and what they were doing and where did they live and why did they get rid of them," Rosenblatt says. "Then, put these back into that cycle."

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