While the piecemeal music purchasing that MP3 singles allow are oft-cited as signalling “the death of the album,” the format continues to show signs of life. Beyonce’s recent ‘surprise’ release was billed as a “visual album” and a whopping seventeen short films accompanied the tracks. In 2011, Washington DC-based Bluebrain released a location-aware album which required listeners explore the National Mall while plugged into an iOS app—and there are loads of other examples. An offshoot venture of American electronic musician and sound designer Benjamin Wynn’s (aka Deru) forthcoming album 1979 continues this tradition of experimentation and will be released as a “limited-edition sculptural object.” The Obverse Box is a pico projector encased within a CNC-milled block of walnut, and each of the nine songs’ videos (directed by Anthony Ciannamea) are to be viewed as a seamless audiovisual experience; in Wynn’s own words, “my songs will beam to your walls.”
As much a time capsule as a design object, The Obverse box even has its own (quasi) mythology:
Based on a collection of found articles, letters, photos, and other ephemera left behind by the late philosopher Jackson Sonnanfeld-Arden – the original Obverse Box was discovered in 2003 by Deru at a flea market in Los Angeles. Our version of the time capsule is an homage to the ways we leave behind our documented memories, in the spirit of the original relic. It ships loaded with Deru 1979 as a full-length video album to be experienced with real light and sound in physical space.
Fifty copies of The Obverse Box are currently available for pre-order and will ship in mid-June. While the $500 USD price tag definitely makes it a luxury purchase, the idiosyncratic faceted projector enclosure and (presumed) similarly lovingly-crafted integrated AV experience cannot be accused of lacking in ambition.