“Cassette Memories” // [DN1004] Foundation 4D Untitled #2

“People talk about having an inner child. I don’t. I have an inner old lady who says inappropriate things, tells everyone to be quiet, and wants to go to bed at 8 pm.” — Unknown aka. A Fridge Magnet


View on Vimeo @ https://vimeo.com/360067067


I always felt as though I was born in the wrong generation. The wrong time. Being brought up by my grandparents in the laid-back and more rural parts of Singapore, I spent more than half of my lifetime listening to songs on the jukebox or playing old cassette tapes my aunts recorded when they were younger.

Songs Used:
    • 譚詠麟 (Alan Tam) – 水中花 (Flower in Water) // First Released 1988
    • 周華健 (Wakin Chau) – 朋友 (Friends) // First Released in 1997

These two tracks were digitally arranged into a cassette like audio format and not through a real cassette, creating an illusion of a faded memory I have of cassette tapes. The audio ends quite abruptly with a series of exaggerated tape windings and fervent clicks of the buttons.


Tapes in the past were often recorded with a lot of background noise and the actual audio being rather muffled (the signifier). So for the first song, I used Audacity to work a high-pass filter on the track while overlaying it with a clip of static and background noise. Afterwards, I reduced the entire track by 12 dB, and was mostly able to bring out the intended effect of a playing cassette tape.

The second song is of a higher quality than the first, and other than lowering it by -16 dB, I didn’t want tamper much with it (the signifier). Being first recorded in 1997, the song had a slight hint of background noise, especially at the start where it opened with an overlaid recording of people talking.

Together with the opening sequence of the track, the snippet of the first song mimics the past (the signified), where cassette tapes were the only portable option of cheap and good audio. The second song on the other hand, mimics and signifies the present (the signified), where no matter how much we try to live in the past, we can only listen to old recordings of songs on our digital devices.

The abrupt ending then signifies the present as transiting into the future where there is no telling what would happen and if the past will ever be remembered or cared about.


While looking through various photo albums of younger me, I came across a lot of photos in which I looked quite forlorn. The image used is a photo of 3 year old me on a bench outside McDonald’s smiling like an eccedentesiast (someone who tends to be reluctant when displaying genuine emotion). I don’t think it was with that intention that I smiled when the picture was took, but the mood of the image as seen, was what I imagined when I listened to the created track.

McDonalds was quite a luxury for schooling me and back then, I could choose between the sweet sweet 60 cent vanilla cone or a small bowl of fishball noodles. (well of course when the choice came, I chose the ice cream cone) Furthermore, the closest McDonalds from my grandparent’s house was 8 bus stops with lots of walking, or 30 mins away. The only way I could ever have a taste of other children’s childhood was if my aged grandma brought me out. McDonalds was a bittersweet luxury close to my heart.


“You are an old soul with a young heart; naive enough to love, wise enough to learn.” — Unknown


Thank you 🙂

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Vanessa Chiu

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