The young artist, whose quirky collection is currently on exhibition at Recess gallery in New York City, says he bought his first copy of the record at a garage sale when he was 15 years old. Since then, he's built his stockpile through eBay listings and sellers who have come to the gallery.
In an interview with the website Dust & Grooves, Chang says he listens to the album, which includes hits like "Dear Prudence," "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," "Blackbird," and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," every day. In short, he's a man obsessed.
Now with 693 first-edition copies and counting, the "We Buy White Albums" project has become a sort of time capsule for the Beatles era. "I’m collecting them as cultural artifacts," Chang says. "Every copy tells a story. Each one has aged uniquely over the course of the last half-decade."
In fact, when he's searching for albums to buy to add to the collection, he actually favors well-worn ones over the mint-condition records that other collectors often seek, and pays between $1 and $20 per copy. "I often find the 'poorer' condition albums more interesting," he says. Indeed, many of the plain white album covers are scrawled with doodles and notes from their previous owners.
So why just this one album out of the Beatles' 12-record discography? "The White Album has the best cover," he says. "I have a few copies of Abbey Road and Rubber Soul, but I keep those in my 'junk bin,'" he adds.
Visitors to the display can browse the records and listen to them. And once his display leaves the art gallery, Chang has a grand plan for his collection. "At the end of the exhibition, I will press a new double-LP made from all the recordings layered upon each other," he says. "It will be like playing a few hundred copies of the White Album at once, each scratched and warped in its own way."
We can't wait to hear it.
Got a copy of the White Album you'd like to sell or donate to Chang's project? Get more info at his website.