by Attila Nagy, Gawker Media
Thanks to the internet’s amazing capacity for self-recycling, articles about Soviet pirate recordings made of X-rays pop up frequently in my feeds. These popular, widely-shared posts explain how, in the 1950s and 60s, music fans in the Soviet Union fabricated bootlegged recordings of banned western music-and they used old X-rays to do it. In reality, the story of these records extends even further back than the USSR.
The story was warmed up by The Verge, NPR, and Junkculture not long ago, and Der Spiegel and theBBC wrote about it a few years earlier as well. A common element in these articles-including NPR and the BBC-are images from Hungarian photographer József Hajdú, regardless of the fact that Hajdú’s images don’t have much to do with the Soviet bootleg discs.
I had seen Hajdú’s photos before, and some of them can be found on the old site of the Bolt Photo Gallery with a brief description about the origin and the circumstances of Hajdu’s work. To get a better picture of what was really behind this story, I went to the source and asked Hajdú himself to tell me what to know about these strange recordings, which wear the stunning marks of invisible short wavelength electromagnetic radiation.
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