Collecting the Beatles' "White Album," an art project


NewImageArtist Rutherford Chang has opened a very curious record shop in NYC's Recess gallery. It's filled with more than 650 first pressings of the Beatles' White Album. And nothing else. You can't buy any of them, but Chang will happily purchase yours, in any condition. He's also recording every time someone listens to one of the records to create new layered audio works. "We Buy White Albums: Rutherford Chang" (Recess)

Interview with Rutherford Chang (Dust & Grooves)


  1. I don’t get it.

    If his 100 listeners played 100 White Albums on the same turntable, there would be no time differences – because one White Album is pretty much identical to another.

    So did he play them on 100 slightly different turntables?  Or is the speed shifting artificial?

    1. These are 100 copies of the album in 100 different states.  That’s the nature of vinyl.  The records, much like their covers, will vary dramatically in condition.  The playback will skip and stutter on some copies.  I’m no expert but I reckon in some cases the needle will probably skate across the record in no time at all.

    1. I’m imagining Dr. Zasio from “Hoarders” saying, “I think you’re using your record collection as a way to keep others at a distance.”

    2. agreed that there’s some obsessiveness going on here, but not all obsessiveness is a bad thing. i think this is brilliant.

  2. I saw this on another site the other day and thought it was amazing.  It’s fascinating how some people reacted to being given a blank canvas with drawings, letters, poetry, etc.  The connection people had with their copy and the stories that you imagine behind them (where are Richie and Jeannie now?) draws you in. A lot of these seem like copies in a condition that would get overlooked in second hand record stores by collectors and yet, in many ways, they’re more unique than a lot of other supposedly more “desirable” items.  Wish I could go and see the exhibit.

  3. Finally, one less item of guilt from my childhood to carry around. I mistakenly opened one (of four) of my fathers collector copies of the White Album when I was a kid. Mistakenly isn’t the right word, I opened it because I “knew” that a brand new record would sound better than the the copy I was always handed to play. My father didn’t agree with my logic for some reason, and promptly made the record case with doors off limits.

    Rutherford Chang I am on my way with an almost new copy, opened and played once, but otherwise pristine.

  4. This article compelled me to get out my copy and admire it. It’s in too good condition for this guy, though. It still has the four color photos in the sleeve. And it’s mono.

  5. Someone should try that project with Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream & Other Delights album. Oh wait, that’s every thrift store in existence.

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