Saturday, 30 June 2012

Sun Boxes in Vermont

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

Friday, 29 June 2012

The (Silent) Tornado and other sound effects

Featured at Mercer Union's current show Red Sky At Night is Jack Goldstein's A Suite Of Nine 7-inch Records With Sound Effects, which includes vinyl records with titles such as The Burning Forest, The Tornado, A Swim Against The Tide and A Faster Run pressed into corresponding colours.  To Goldtsein, sound recordings are images.  The colour, the sound and the title define each of his records as an object.

Goldstein at Mercer Union, Toronto 2012:

It is interesting to see at the same exhibition Jonathan Monk's silent film The Silent Tornado (For Jack Goldstein), which shows nothing but the rotation of Goldstein's purple record - spinning like a tornado.  There, the violent force of nature is miraculously controlled by the simple lifting and dropping of the record needle.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Part of Mercer Union's show Red Sky At Night, Bruce Nauman's artist's book L A AIR is made up of nothing but pages of monochromatic hues suggestive of the polluted air of Los Angeles.

Nauman at Mercer Union, Toronto 2012:

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Barometer (1)

Heike Baranowsky's video installation Barometer (1) at Mercer Union's Red Sky At Night cleverly uses floating weather balloons to signify the space of a low-pressure room built by the GDR to simulate conditions at high altitudes for training top athletes during the Cold War.

Baranowsky at Mercer Union, Toronto 2012:

Monday, 25 June 2012

See you

Just can't get enough of Depeche Mode ... this one's from 1982:

Video from 's youtube channel

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Kingdom + Photographic

Dave Gahan's Kingdom, 2007:

Video from 's youtube channel

Depeche Mode's Photographic (Reaps Darklight Mix Instrumental), 1980 and 2009:

Video from 's youtube channel

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Twilight's Last Gleaming

Currently on view at Mercer Union's Red Sky At Night , John Massey's photography series Twilight's Last Gleaming of architectural models presents enclosed spaces as mental landscapes.  Beautiful melancholy!

Massey at Mercer Union, Toronto 2012:

Friday, 22 June 2012

Inventory Of Small Deaths (Blow)

Part of the inspiring Mercer Union show Red Sky At Night, Cao Guimarães & Rivane Neuenschwander's short film Inventory Of Small Deaths (Blow) depicts a soap bubble blown by the wind, framing and distorting the Brazilian tropical landscape along its way.

Guimarães & Neuenschwander at Mercer Union, Toronto 2012:

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Nimbus D'Aspremont

Mercer Union always produces excellent shows. Their current, very well curated Red Sky At Night is no exception.  Featuring Absalon, Heike Baranowsky, Jack Goldstein, Cao Guimarães & Rivane Neuenschwander, John Massey, Jonathan Monk, Bruce Nauman and Berndnaut Smilde, the Sarah Robayo Sheridan curated show centers around environments - both exterior and interior.  Smilde brought clouds indoors by using water, smoke and spot lighting and created a physically tangible sculpture, whose short-lived occurrence was made permanent by the photographic decumentation Nimbus D'Aspremont. I love the ambiguity of outdoor/indoor, especially with the blue background wall.

Smilde at Mercer Union, Toronto 2012:

More on Red Sky At Night in future posts ...

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Colman's trees of nightmares and psychedelia

Richard Colman is the other San Francisco artist besides Andrew Schoultz featured at Cooper Cole Gallery's current Destroyer show.  Like Schoultz, Colman uses symbolism in his works. Expressions of his paintings and installations border between nightmares and psychedelic encounters.

Colman at Cooper Cole, Toronto 2012:

Monday, 18 June 2012

Schoultz's trees of chaos and destruction

Cooper Cole Gallery's current exhibition Destroyer features two artists from San Francisco - Andrew Schoultz and Richard Colman.  Exploring historical, political and environmental themes, Schoultz's works are full of symbolism.  His images are often associated with chaos and destruction.

Schoultz at Cooper Cole, Toronto 2012:

Schoultz's style and imagery are easily recognizable.  Here's a mural by Schoultz I recently found in Toronto's West End:

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Sun Boxes

Craig Colorusso's sound installation Sun Boxes came to my attention recently.  It's comprised of 20 independently operating solar-powered speakers, each playing a different but harmonious loop of tones and making a B flat chord together.  As the loops continually overlap in various ways, the musical piece would slowly evolve over time.  Ingenious idea!  Here's a clip of what it sounds like:

Video from 's youtube channel