Explained: “RecordFace” street art in Indianapolis, IN

A record with a red reflector and guitar picks for teeth

You can find this particular Recordface on side of Irving Theater. | Photo by INDYtoday team

Table of Contents

A red reflector for an eye, guitar picks for teeth, cassette ribbon for hair… You’ve probably seen it around town without even realizing it.

Vinylhead” and “Recordface” are names the community has given the guerrilla art that took Indy by storm around 2016. There have been many Reddit threads about the installations, but there’s been radio silence on any new pieces for quite some time.

The music

Recordface isn’t just visual art — several installations actually had MP3 players attached to them with earbuds for passersby to listen in. This was when QR codes weren’t a thing, yet.

Though a few glitches got in the way of people actually listening to what was on them (drained batteries and stolen players), Indy resident + local musician Fred Miller was able to rescue one from the awning of a downtown building.

The playlist included tracks titled “beauty 82,” “Juan,” “Just You,“ “Money,” “Monster Truck,” “Mrs. Bruer,” “Poet or a Fool,” “Thank God,” and “Trip.”

After listening to them, samples of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5,” The Smiths’ “This Night Has Opened My Eyes,” and the soundtrack to the TV series “Twin Peaks” can be identified.

We’ve done our best to create a playlist with the same vibes + you can listen to it on Spotify.

The artist

The artist in question has only come out of hiding once or twice in recent years to clarify a few things. Based on an anonymous letter (presumably written by the responsible party) that was sent to IndyStar in 2017, they claimed their intentions for the street art were “respectful, passionate, and coming from a desire to mix street art, music, and Indiana geography.”

As far as Fred can tell, they might have worked at a record store and had access to records + tapes that would end up getting destroyed. He thinks the artist might have wanted to create an Indy guide of sorts to show some of their favorite places around town.

According to the artist, they wanted to make the world “a little more interesting.” However, they noted that for some, they would be seen as “a renegade vandal adding an eyesore.”

And that does seem to be the case.

The response

Some of the installations infringed on the artworks of Don Gummer (husband of Meryl Streepthat’s a story for another time) temporarily displayed at Monument Circle. It apparently took a hammer + chisel to break off the Recordface on one of his sculptures.

In the same letter, the artist also explained that they did not intend for their art’s adhesive to be so difficult to remove and apologized to those negatively impacted.

We asked Fred what he thought about this kind of tagging, and he had this to say:

“That’s kind of the reality of art in the Midwest. You look at downtown and murals are painted over all the time. Art just gets destroyed, but it gets destroyed by corporate interests. And for some reason we’re okay with that.”

A map with pinned locations where the Recordfaces have been found.

Let us know where you found another Recordface + we’ll add it here. | Map via Google Maps

The locations

The INDYtoday team did a little detective work + we discovered that of the ~50 installations the city had at one time, a fraction of them remain.

  1. WFYI parking lot facing the old Chase bank
  2. Next to the Thirsty Scholar sign facing 16th St.
  3. On the FS Houses building in Fountain Square
  4. Irving Theater off Johnson Ave.
  5. East-facing wall of Hampton Design Studios in Irvington (look up for this one)
  6. The back of Irvington’s Jockamo Pizza
  7. Above a window at Indy Reads

This isn’t an exhaustive list, so if you find any more, let us know and we’ll add them to the map.

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