People have been dissecting Frank Ocean's two new projects, Endless and Blonde, over the weekend, and in particular people have been particularly interested in what Frank Ocean's Endless really means. The visual album, which was proceeded by a stream of Frank Ocean building a staircase of sorts, but it was never actually clear on what it all meant. Tom Sachs, an artist who worked on Endless in some capacity and also contributed to Frank's Boys Don't Cry magazine, sat down with Pitchfork to give a much needed explanation.
Speaking over the phone, Sachs said, "We’re living in an age of non-handmade things." He continued, "The iPhone is the best-made thing there is, but there’s no evidence of a human being involved with it. Frank's music, which is very personal and literally has his voice, in the same way that all musicians have their voice, it simply takes time. And when you see the video, you see him building a stairway to heaven in real time."
He then explained that the version that released, isn't the full version. "The 40-minute version is edited, but there's something like a 140-hour version. That's the whole thing. That exists, that's the art piece." He elaborated by explaining that the version released on Apple Music is "the edited version." He added, "This version where there are three is them is kind of a compressed experience where you see Frank Oceans making the same thing."
Explaining what the staircase means, he says, "When he’s building, you see him literally building every component of this complex structure. Each stair is a plywood box. And you see the plywood end grain. You see each stair being stacked on top of each other onto a central steel column that’s welded and bolted to the ground. So there’s a transparency to the building that is the same as the transparency in the music. The spiral staircase is also an endless column—a reference to Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi's work."
Eloquently wrapping it up, he added, "Frank’s music is simultaneously complex and simple. But no matter how you slice it you can hear what’s going on. And there are sounds that are not musical sounds that are used musically to convey a mood. And all of that stuff is transparent and helps communicate how the music was made."
Read his full explanation of the staircase here.