Sun Boxes Make Music Through Weather and Magical Moonbeams

By Craig Colorusso

We first found out about Craig Colorusso's Sun Boxes the other day and became enchanted as hell. We wanted to write about them, but couldn't quite wrap our minds around how best to say "we don't know how they work, but they sound pretty," so we had Craig write up something himself.

In November 2008 my longtime friend, "Sexy" David Sanchez-Burr called me up and said, "Yo! Make something solar, we're going to the desert."
 
 In June of 2009 Dave and I went out to Rhyolite Nevada with another guy named Richard Vosseller for a residency at The Goldwell Open Air Museum. We created an event called "Off The Grid," the objective of which was to make something using sustainable energy, and thus, Sun Boxes was born.


Comprised of 20 solar-powered speakers, each emitting a different guitar note, each box has a different note loaded onto a sampler programmed to play continuously as long as there's enough power. There are no batteries involved so both participants and weather alter the piece. When clouds come sometimes SB gets quiet or turns off altogether.     

The volume of Sun Boxes is loud enough to engulf the participant, but there's enough space for the ambient sounds to leak into the mix. In Turners Falls an ambulance drove by with full sirens blaring and it was amazing to hear it get sucked into the mix. Menemsha Beach on Martha's Vineyard provided a backdrop of waves all day.  

Although I would cite Dave as catalyst, the truth is I have been thinking about this for a long time. Like my other pieces it's difficult, impossible really, to pinpoint where they started. Over the years I feel like I've been collecting bits and pieces and then one day woke up with 20 solar-powered speakers.

I would say the starting point is the physicality, although I have very fond memories of my time in bands and on tour, I wanted to make something people could feel like they are part of. I wanted to present music without that barrier between audience and performer. The participants are literally surrounded by Sun Boxes. People are part of it not herded into a room to stand before an ensemble. My art is not precious, it is not meant to be hidden behind bulletproof glass. My art is meant for the masses to be lived amongst.

Continuing with this concept, we launched Sun Boxes the app, which allows participants to listen to the audio alone or recruit people and turn each mobile device into a sun box. 20 people can make it just like the piece. I like the idea of making a version of Sun Boxes that people can take into their lives and incorporate them any way they see fit.

It's really great to see the boxes unfold differently everywhere I go, clouds and all. This was not the intention for the piece but I think it's important to realize you don't always get what you want when you want it. It's really nice to be reminded of this. Especially in such an aesthetically pleasing way.

To experience Sun Boxes for yourself, check HERE for a list of events.

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