After my recent post on Sun Boxes, I got a chance, with great pleasure, to chat with its creator, sound artist Craig Colorusso.
Monochromatic Axonometric: How and when did you come up with the idea of Sun Boxes? Why 20 speakers, no more or no less? What are the major influences and inspirations of your creation?
Craig Colorusso: In November 2008, long-time friend collaborator, "Sexy" David Sanchez, called me up and said, "Yo! Make something solar. We're going to the desert." Then he hung up. Now, the thing about "Sexy" is he gets things done. So when he's on the phone, you take the call. In June of 2009, I went to the desert with "Sexy" and a guy I never met before named Richard Vosseller. We had a residency at the Goldwell Open Air Museum. We created Off The Grid, a show where we made art using sustainable energy. Sun Boxes was my contribution. I will forever cite Dave as a catalyst for the piece but the truth is I've been thinking about this for a long time. I was in a few bands in the 90s and we made some records and went on some tours. So I've been collecting information for a while. I would have to say a starting point was wanting to make something people could feel like they were part of. I loved being on stage but there is that barrier between performer and audience. I wanted to make something that people could immerse themselves in. As soon as you see it or hear it, you are part of Sun Boxes. You decide how far in you want to go. The original idea was for 100 speakers; 20 will do for now.
MA: Sun Boxes have travelled to many different state parks and college campuses. How important is the site to the installation of Sun Boxes? How do you make Sun Boxes a site specific installation? Do you have a favourite venue, an ideal location, or a place where you'd like Sun Boxes to be permanently installed?
CC: The sound of Sun Boxes is loud enough to engulf the participant but there's enough space for ambient sounds to leak into to the mix. So the environment Sun Boxes is in plays a very big role in the experience. In Turners Falls MA, an ambulance went by the array full sirens. It was pretty amazing to see and hear such a thing. We filmed the piece on Martha's Vineyard last year and the sound of the ocean in the background was beautiful. I recently participated in the Communikey Festival in Boulder. Sun Boxes was in four different sites over five days, which was great. The Sunnies crawled their way through town. When participants see the piece in different locations like that, it really showcases the versatility of it. The current set up is temporary. I would like to build a permanent version at some point. After doing Sun Boxes, everything has changed for me. All I see are possibilities.
MA: Can you elaborate on that? What are the possibilities you see?
CC: After being in the desert with the piece for a few weeks, I was able to see what it was actually capable of doing. All my pieces are thought about over large chunks of time. I like to live amongst them for a while. Sun Boxes is a system that interacts with Mother Nature. This is just the beginning. I'd like to pursue this and make bigger, more sophisticated systems.
MA: Your new gig is starting July 5 in Elmore State Park, Vermont. What environmental elements are you expecting Sun Boxes to interact with this time? Sounds of the water, the wind, or an ambulance's sirens (just kidding)?
CC: I haven't been to Elmore yet so we'll see what's up there. Leaves, trees, wind, birds ... It's all there.
MA: Thank you for your time, Craig. Good luck on your gigs this summer.
For five consecutive weekends starting July 5, Sun Boxes will travel to five different state parks in Vermont - Elmore, Grand Isle, Knight Point, Silver Lake and Camp Plymouth. Summer is short, for us northerners at least. It's a great idea to come out and get immersed in the mesmerizing sound of Sun Boxes while summer is still around.
Images courtesy of Craig Colorusso