Research Plan: Digging for Vinyl.
Digging is a form of sourcing vinyl records in alternate ways to mainstream music distribution channels. It involves searching for disregarded or overlooked cultural artefacts, commonly seen as temporal ‘treasures’ that are not commonly available in mainstream retail. This can involve visits to flea markets, thrift stores, private collectors, independent music stores and just about any outlet that is not considered mainstream or overly commercial. The cultural ‘practice’ of digging is just as important as the actual use vinyl has a product in this context. It is widely considered that digging is most popular with club DJ’s and music producers looking for samples from the analogue era to incorporate into new contexts, and this will be inherent in the theoretical framework. Representation: Looking at how identity is created through digging ties in with some of the transcendent philosophies that generate individuality (Doane 156-83). An important aspect of this is authenticity. Authenticity is represented through digging in several ways. Starting with vinyl as a medium and the argument that analogue is ‘real’ and digital is ‘fake’ (Yochim and Biddinger 189). Then moving to the concept of discovery as an accumulated possession of taste and distinction, and the grounding of discourse through agency, individualism and questioning music as a corporate product (Doane 156-83; Moore 440-441). Design: As a practice, it is important to focus on the ‘act’ of digging as much as the actual design of the vinyl product itself. To take this into account it is proposed to look at vinyl as a binary narrative to digital formats, and explore the impact these have had on cultural practices involving exchanges of capital (Yochim and Biddinger 183-93). This will include a complete history that carefully inspects fringe cultures, access to technology, and social change. A comprehensive yet digestible explanation of the evolution in technology will also explain how social identity through eclecticism has resisted Euro-centrism, allowing diggers a contemporary cultural frontier outside of direct conflict (Doane 156-83).
The idea that digging can ‘disrupt the music industry’s efforts to define and regulate their consumer identities’ helps deepen the nostalgia associated with its practice (Hayes 52). The boutique quality of vinyl as an assessable commodity will provide a good place to study the euphoria associated with cultural ‘treasure hunting’ with disposable income (Shuker 124). Some historical musicology will also look at how temporality re-introduces cultural artefacts for modern consumption. The idea of flea markets, garage sales and small retail outlets as secondary cash economies, outside of the modern information panopticon, is also of interest (Straw 175-85). Consumption: The act of digging as a metaphoric enactment of cultural archaeology will be used to see how use and exchange values, with vinyl as an intermediary, produce identity (Edgeworth 80-86). The physical spaces that enable consumption, and the lengths diggers go to in search of euphoria, form the main basis of this (Shuker 124). Looking at these spaces through the idea of actively participating in individual agency as a form of social activism will hopefully provide a clear picture of how they are consumed (Hayes 53-4; Doane 162). Construction: With the idea of taste and distinction as the basis of identity, the way these spaces are constructed and maintained will be referred to reflexively throughout the study (Doane 162-7). The homogenisation of cultural emblems like music in the globalised marketplace has incited a boutique market that values authenticity and rejects generic consumerism (Yochim and Biddinger 193; Moore 440-1). Digging as a way of finding artefacts that represent deep cultural connections whilst also appreciating irony and...
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