The Boombox Project is both a book and a touring art show, a deeply impressionistic interpretation of the history of the Boombox—an iconic device of the 80s that not only conveyed the anthems of a generation, but also now serves as a symbol of defiance and rebellion.
Organizer Lyle Owerko started out as a boombox collector, but as his collection grew, the art spark went off inside of him; he wanted to see these things large and in a massively reinterpreted scale, and thus The Boombox Project was born!
Owerko’s biggest inspiration was approaching the project from the perspective of a creative anthropologist, unearthing a forgotten historical gem and celebrating its significance for youth culture.
Owerko says that he was inspired by music from the era (Run DMC, LL Cool J, The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, hardcore, hip-hop, metal, new wave, etc.), but visually he wanted to represent these objects as they really looked in use, to amplify the beat-up nature of their personalities.
Owerko drew inspiration from films such as Ridley Scott’s Alien (which Scott once described as “truckers in space”) and the first Star Wars films (whose Millennium Falcon was beautifully accented with damage). Owerko wanted to show off the battle scars and elemental nature of these sonic beasts, to celebrate their almost steampunk quality—as well as the fact that they lived a full, active life.
The whole idea of the project is compressed into a celebration of youthful innovation and free speech: in The Boombox Project book, many artists from the era talk about how Boomboxes allowed them to escape repression, to get
their voice heard, to be noticed and understood (and if not understood, at least not ignored).
The one thing that might set this project apart from anything else out there is it has an immense gravity in urban history, this is not a hollow statement, this project is about youthful innovation and the symbol of a generation that still echoes in our society even today…
Long live the Boombox!
Learn more about The Boombox Project at owerko.com. The Boombox Project book is available at Amazon.com, and the artwork is also represented by CLIC Gallery in New York City, Whisper Fine Arts in London and Jackson Fine Arts in Atlanta.
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