A Short Run: A Selection of New Zealand Lathe-Cut Records

Curator and researcher Luke Wood explores the intersection between music and design in the radical margins of New Zealand culture.

At the foothills of the Southern Alps in the late 1980s Peter King re-engineered a then outdated technology, developing a new way of ‘cutting’ audio into transparent polycarbonate plastic.

Exhibition Partners

Lo-fi but affordable, Peter King’s lathe cut records sparked an explosion of limited-edition releases from NZ’s innovative underground music scenes. Generally produced in runs of 20–100 copies, these records often featured bespoke hand-made cover art, liner notes, booklets, and various other inserts and modifications; audio, artefacts, aesthetics, and attitudes that are practically unfeasible within the economies of scale required by the commercial music industry.

Researched and curated by Luke Wood, Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design at the University of Canterbury’s Ilam School of Fine Arts, A Short Run brings together a broad selection of these releases, alongside more recent developments and outcomes of lathe-cutting record technology. Drawing from the private collections of artists, musicians, bands, and small independent record labels around the country, this exhibition explores the intersection between music and design in the radical margins of New Zealand culture.

Luke Wood has developed primary research for this exhibition of New Zealand-made lathe cut records out of an interest in the potential for the distribution of music/sound via physical formats in a pervasively digital future. Luke has recently set up the 'art school record label', Ilam Press Records, a research initiative and subsidiary of the Ilam Press; an inhouse publishing workshop at the Ilam School of Fine Arts which he runs in collaboration with colleague Aaron Beehre.

Luke’s broader research interests and outcomes are motivated by the rapidly expanding practices and roles of graphic design in the 21st century. Alongside Brad Haylock (RMIT), he co-edited One and Many Mirrors: On Graphic Design Education Today published by Occasional Papers (London), featuring contributions from leading international designers, teachers and academics. Luke also co-created the award-winning graphic design publications Head Full of Snakes and The National Grid.


A full programme of fortnightly events will be announced online on our website.

A Short Run is developed and toured by Objectspace and The Dowse Art Museum.