Why Is There a Tom Sachs Art Installation in the Frank Ocean Visual?

Why Is There a Tom Sachs Art Installation in the Frank Ocean Visual?

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 9.49.51 AM
Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 9.49.51 AM

Frank Ocean, what does it all mean?

The singer, who has made us wait four years for his second studio album, is currently playing a video on his website, but there is very little information as to what is going on. Late last night, the video started, showing a work bench and with white noise playing in the background.

This morning, around 9 a.m. EST, the video feed changed to another angle, now with somebody working at the bench, and with something that looks like speakers in the background. Those aren’t just any old speakers, though, they are actually an art installation by Tom Sachs called Toyan’s (2002), which has been shown in the past as part of an exhibition called Boombox Retrospective 1999–2015.

The exhibition includes a number of working boomboxes and audio systems, with the one featured in the Frank Ocean video described as “a group of speakers eight feet tall by twelve feet across inspired by Jamaican sound systems.” See an image the installation below. Interestingly, the Boombox Retrospective 1999–2015 exhibition is currently showing in New York at the Brooklyn Museum—it’s open until August 14.


Image via Brooklyn Museum

The fact that Toyan’s is currently in an exhibition makes the visual look more like a pre-recorded video and less like a live stream, but we still have a lot of questions. Does this mean that Frank Ocean’s video was recorded somewhere in New York? Is Frank building a boombox which he will then play us his album on? Is he going to do something at the Brooklyn Museum? All will be revealed in due course, but for the meantime this adds an interesting element to the puzzle.

Frank Ocean and Tom Sachs have also collaborated in the past—Ocean, as well as Kanye West, provided playlist of music that was played on Sachs’ boomboxes when they were shown at the Contemporary Austin-Jones Center in Austin in 2015 during SXSW. Sachs told VICE, “We all make playlists, right? So I reached out to my friends and asked them all to contribute. I have a relationship with Kanye and Frank, and they were psyched. This is their talent, [to create music]. You just can’t argue about Kanye’s musical ability.”

Watch the video on Frank Ocean’s website here.


Tom Sachs (L) and Frank Ocean (R)