Iri5’s Ghost in the Machine Series

Over the past couple of weeks, the internet has been abuzz with posts about the artist Erika Simmons’ iri5 “Ghost in the Machine” creations.

These pieces of art, which are made from old cassette tapes and other media, feature musicians and film stars. I first learned about her work on Neatorama, and when I checked the artist’s Flickr, I was hooked; I wanted to own one!

Bob Dylan

From iri5’s Flickr:

I am an artist who specializes in using non traditional media… old books, cassettes, playing cards, magazines, credit cards… whatever I can find. It feels great to work with strange, older materials. Things that have a mind of their own. Most everything I use has been thrown away or donated at some point. Past its prime, like some of the finest things in the world. : )

About her Ghost in the Machine pieces, she says:

In this series I showcase a number of portraits of musicians made out of recycled cassette tape with original cassette. Also included are portraits made from old film and reels. The idea comes from a philosopher’s description of how your spirit lives in your body. I imagine we are all, like cassettes, thoughts wrapped up in awkward packaging. : )

The Beatles

Jimi Hendrix

Her Jimi Hendrix was the picture that made me first think that if I were going to ask her to make one for me, then it would need to be an artist with absolutely killer hair. I already had someone in mind, so I shot an email asking if she did commissions. Erika wrote back and said absolutely.

Now I was on a mission.

After a brief discussion with Kevin on which artist we should have done, we both agreed that it would have to be Robert Smith of the Cure. Bear in mind that the Cure has been around for 30+ years, so Robert has had plenty of different hairstyles; but we found one that looked like the Robert we wanted hanging on our wall.

It was about a week before Erika told me that our Robert Smith was ready, and when I saw the attached picture, I was amazed!

Robert Smith

Our art piece arrived yesterday, and after a careful unwrapping, I was finally able to fully appreciate the work that goes into each one of these.

Check out the 3D quality of Robert’s hair…


I think I will probably get him framed inside a plain black shadow box, so that dust and curious fingers don’t wreak havoc on his hair.


It’s always exciting to discover art in unexpected formats that excites or inspires you, and that is definitely what Erika’s work has done. I look forward to seeing more of her creations on Flickr, and I love the fact that I now own an original. 😀

I could never pick out only one Cure song and call it my favorite, but I’ll include a couple of my faves so you can enjoy a tiny bit of their musical awesomeness…

Here is 1982’s “Let’s Go to Bed”…

And here is 1989’s “Lullabye”…

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

3 Comments on "Iri5’s Ghost in the Machine Series"

  1. How do these get displayed/mounted?

  2. geardiary | April 5, 2009 at 9:46 am |

    They come on a canvas frame, and I think the best way to mount it would be in a black frame with 3″ raised sides – a shadowbox style? 🙂

  3. “Mint Car” 🙂

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