This article attempts to lend an ear to the compact audio cassette: a key feature of the domestic soundscape from its introduction in the early 1960s until its gradual obsolescence in the first decades of the 21st century. The piece aims to provide a new perspective on the cassette by way of a discussion of the Start Here tapes project: a series of seven artist audio cassette tapes released in 2016 and 2017. Applying a practice-based methodology to a study of objects that are intimate and well known, the project seeks to foreground the material agency of the cassette by making work that reflexively references material objecthood. The article examines what is at stake politically in this focus on materiality, and considers the way creative forms of reflexivity might have renewed ethical and political value within a ecopolitical or biopolitical context.

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