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Childish Gambino’s Exhibition At Rough Trade NYC Brings The Internet To Life

Renaissance man Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, teams up with artist Brian Roettinger for in-store installation.
December 5, 2013, 7:41pm

The Boy’s Room by Childish Gambino and Brian Roettinger, Photo by Cait Oppermann.

With a title like because the internet, Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino’s forthcoming record, out December 10th on Glassnote Records, plugs right into our hyper connected, ultra digitized daily lives. The metaphors of shared digital connectivity meet real life in a similarly titled album exhibition conceptualized by LA-based artist and graphic designer Brian Roettinger with Tumblr IRL and Glassnote Records.

because the internet, on view from November 25th 2013 to January 4th 2014 at The Room in the brand spanking new Rough Trade NYC store, is an immersive audio visual experience that invites us into Childish Gambino’s creative space and inspiration board – his Tumblr blog disguised as his childhood bedroom. On Sunday, December 8th at 6:00 p.m. Childish Gambino will perform live in a free in-store performance to magnify the effect of the show.

The Boy’s Room by Childish Gambino and Brian Roettinger, Photo by Cait Oppermann.

The Boy’s Room by Childish Gambino and Brian Roettinger, Photo by Cait Oppermann.

“We have a camera streaming in The Room during store hours,” Tumblr Music Evangelist Nate Auerbach said. “You never know what you’re going to see in there. The great thing about The Room at Rough Trade is that we can continue to update it. It really is like a living, breathing album.”

On the surface, the exhibit reveals the influences that shape Childish Gambino’s multifaceted creative vision. But on an even deeper level, because the internet, the third installment of the inspiring Tumblr IRL series, shows what happens when music culture, technology and record stores come together.

The Boy’s Room by Childish Gambino and Brian Roettinger, Photo by Cait Oppermann.

For context, Rough Trade is an iconic London-based independent label and record shop that recently opened in a huge 15,000 square foot warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn amid hard statistics that CD sales are declining, myths that vinyl is dead despite a recent surge in sales, clarion calls that the album as a format is over, and in a retail climate where record stores are downsizing or closing up shop altogether.

“Digital music has done a lot to place a value on music as an artifact, particularly music in its vinyl format,” Rough Trade co-owner and co-founder Stephen Godfroy said. “Digital music is arguably of little value, and often you’re not actually owning it – you’re renting it and the value is largely on its convenience. People are looking for an antidote to that faceless, digital commodity.”

Part of that antidote is The Room, a 400 square foot exhibition space located on the mezzanine-level of the NYC store where labels or book publishers can propose a unique, immersive, and multi-sensory experience, telling the story of a particular artist or recording.

The Boy’s Room by Childish Gambino and Brian Roettinger, Photo by Cait Oppermann.

The Boy’s Room by Childish Gambino and Brian Roettinger, Photo by Cait Oppermann.

The Boy’s Room by Childish Gambino and Brian Roettinger, Photo by Cait Oppermann.

The Boy’s Room by Childish Gambino and Brian Roettinger, Photo by Cait Oppermann.

“Hopefully it gives the public a very interesting and immersive experience that conveys how record stores are more relevant today than they’ve ever been,” Godfroy said.

One thing’s certain: record stores are supposed to be places to discover unique experiences. That’s why Rough Trade NYC has Ping-Pong tables, a coffee bar, and a separate role as a Bowery Presents-branded music venue.

“If you are creating a record store, which is a place to hang out, then having a venue as part of that makes a lot of sense. People come to our store because it’s a destination. It’s not on a high street it’s on a side street, so we reward people for their visit.”

Creating an experience – a destination – in real life is why it makes a lot of sense for the third Tumblr IRL installment to take place in The Room at Rough Trade. When Childish Gambino performs there live this Sunday, it’ll be the first time a Tumblr IRL artist will actually perform in the context of their exhibition, bringing the value of experiencing an album full circle.

Experience because the internet 24/7 at http://irlirl.tumblr.com/childishgambino.