AGED ALBUMS AS FOUND OBJECTS for any artist to use for his own work is the topic of this interview by Eilon Paz with Rutherford Chang on the Dust & Grooves Vinyl Music Culture website (February 15, 2103). It has been modified to fit your screen. In it, Mr. Chang identifies himself as a collector of THE WHITE ALBUM and apparently nothing else. That is, he is not a record collector in the sense that the term ' record collector' is normally applied.
Nonetheless, he has certainly attracted the attention of countless normal record collectors and vinyl junkies around the globe (and “normal” is not a word normally associated with record collectors), courtesy of the worldwide web.
I got into collecting multiple WHITE ALBUMS because every copy tells a story. Each one has aged uniquely over the course of the last half-decade.
Paz: Why do you find it so great?
Chang: I’m most interested in the albums as objects and observing how they have aged. So for me, a Beatles album with an all white cover is perfect.
Paz: Do you care about the album’s condition?
Chang: I collect numbered copies of THE WHITE ALBUM in any condition. In fact I often find the poorer condition albums more interesting.
Paz: Are you interested in the personal history behind each album?
Chang: I am, but often this information is not available, so it becomes an imagined history based on the condition of the albums.
Paz: Are you collecting as an artist or as a music fan?
Chang: I’m collecting them as cultural artifacts.
Paz: I’m trying to figure out if you’re a vinyl collector, or a music aficionado, or an artist making an art piece with an object that happens to be a Beatles' WHITE ALBUM? Can you expand on that?
Chang: I’m making an art piece using WHITE ALBUMS as material. But the process also very much involves collecting vinyl and listening to music.
Paz: How did you come up with the idea of collecting first edition WHITE ALBUMS and why just first editions?
Chang: I got into collecting multiple WHITE ALBUMS because every copy tells a story. Each one has aged uniquely over the course of the last half-decade.
Paz: Why only numbered ones? They could be a bit pricey, don’t they?
Chang: The serial numbers make them part of a set. There are enough numbered copies that I still manage to acquire them at reasonable prices.
Paz: How far will you go to purchase them? Is there an amount you won’t pay?
Chang: So far, I’ve only been buying cheaper copies because I find these as interesting if not more than the expensive ones.
Paz: It seems like THE WHITE ALBUM is a popular album for listeners' self interpretations. Like a clean white canvas. So many of your albums are re-imagined, written on, or abused.
Chang: The covers have certainly been well-loved/abused! The white canvases have been personalized with everything from scribbled names to elaborate paintings. I keep wondering if Richard Hamilton foresaw that all this would happen to the covers when he designed it back in 1968.
To read the complete interview, click on over to Dust & Grooves website. The article there is accompanied by twenty-six photographs of Mr. Chang and his collection, which make for an interesting introduction to just what fascinates the artist about the album as a cultural artifact and a piece in his artistic construct. 2
HEADER IMAGE: This is a right portion of the inside of the folded open gatefold jacket. The damage produced both varying textures and coloration in a way that makes this photo seem almost that of a finished piece of artwork, no?
"Rutherford Chang And Beatles (We Buy White Albums Part 3)" is one of at least ten parts in the “We Buy White Albums” series. They are best read in this order:
1 This article, "I’m most interested in the albums as objects (we buy white albums part 3)," is one in a series of essays about the Beatles ninth album, titled THE BEATLES but also known affectionately and almost universally as “The White Album.” This outburst of activity from me on this topic was inspired by my fascination with conceptual artist Rutherford Chang's fascination with THE WHITE ALBUM as a cultural artifact and as a found-object.
While the parts can be read in any order, it is recommended that you read them in order—Mr. Chang needs to be introduced and “understood” a wee bit for the whole of the sum of these parts to make a meaningful statement!
2 WARNING: Spending too much time gazing at those photos may make you entertain building your own collection of damaged Beatles albums . . .