Craig Colorusso's art explores the interface of sound, light, and space. Art Center Sarasota will be exhibiting his "CUBEMUSIC" installation from Thursday, Nov. 7 through Jan. 3. The piece consists of six, four-foot metal cubes pulsing with light and music. Geometric cut-outs perforate each cube’s surface; constantly shifting light shines through these openings, creating a dance of light on the walls. The speakers of Colorusso’s solar-powered “Sun Boxes” will also create sonic tapestries all around the town. His first "Sun Box" installation happens Monday, Nov. 4, from 4-6 p.m., at the rooftop of the Palm Avenue Parking Garage. We asked the artist to share the thinking behind his work. Here are his sound opinions:
I understand you made the leap from musician to visual artist. How did that happen?
One of the early indicators — I was actually inspired more by visual art than music when I was making music. I'm surprised that the change took as long as it did. I remember being in bands, being on the road, thinking: This is awesome, but there's so much more that I could do.
Did you ever hit the big time?
Nah. We just played in small bars that weren't made for sound. You're surrounded with junk on stage and you have to go play. I started thinking outside the bounds of what a musician could be. Once I did that, it all became really clear. I still think music is great — but I wanted to take it to the next level.
That's interesting, because sound is still so much a part of your art. So, tell us a little about CUBEMUSIC.
Basically, it's six, four-foot by four-foot, aluminum cubes that have geometric shapes cut out of them. Each cube has three light sources inside that glow and decay at different intervals so it casts shadows on the whole space. There's also a four-note guitar chord that drones, so the whole space resonates with really low notes that pull you in. I'd describe it as an environment that a person could walk into and walk out of. I like to say these things are like chill-out rooms at raves, minus the raves.
So, if life outside the Art Center becomes the metaphorical rave, the Art Center becomes the metaphorical chill-out room.
Yeah, man. Come on in. Take a breather.
Getting back to the notion of creating an environment. when we think of visual art, we often think of precious objects. A painting to go on a wall; a sculpture to go on a pedestal; an object in space. In your work, the space itself is the art.
Absolutely. CUBEMUSIC is the cubes, the light and the sound. The piece really becomes the space. I think that's the distinction. I often say that I don't think that what I do is all that precious. I think some things need to be behind bulletproof glass. I want to make art for the masses.
They're metal cubes. They're tough. They're not fragile little cubes.
Yeah. That's another connection with music. I really wanted to make a piece that people could feel they're a part of. All the pieces, you come in, you're in there, man you can touch it you can do whatever you want. In a band situation, there's that barrier between audience and performer. I wanted to try something else where that barrier didn't exist. So here we are.
The artistic equivalent of a mosh pit. You're not saying stay away, don't touch. You're saying come up to it touch it deal with it, let it affect you.
Also, you're part of it once you're in the space. Art isn't something static and outside you. Art is what happens between a person and an art object. I'm trying to expand on that and say you have a lot more to do with it than just stand back and passively look at it. Let it take you to a higher place.
Which is also a description of a religious, meditative environment.
That comes up a lot. And, yeah. I think there's a connection between religion, art and music. For me, the art I've always loved is art that seemed amazing. Art that inspired me to go off and be awesome. Art that seemed bigger than just people. I think that's what some people get out of religion.
You don't want people saying, "Oh that was nice." You want them saying, "Wow, that took me to a different place."
Yeah. And people tell me that — particularly with the Sun Boxes. They've come up to me a few times and said "I've been coming here my whole life you've only come here a day, and the space feels changed for me."
Since you brought it up, what are the Sun Boxes and how do they work?
Well, there's twenty Sun Boxes. They're basically speakers powered by solar panels. They each have a different guitar note in them and they're programmed to play continuously so long as there's enough sun. When they're all playing together, they create a B Flat Six chord which just kind of floats and goes with the sounds around it.
So, if I get this straight, each box plays one note. When they're all going together, they play the chord?
Yeah. It's a system that improvises with Mother Nature. If the sun's not out, the Sun Boxes don't play. And it interacts with the viewer too. If you block the sun, you change the sound space.
Where's the first installation?
That happens Monday, November 4, on the rooftop of the Palm Avenue Parking Garage. We'll be collaborating with the Fuzion Dance Artists to create a free, multimedia sun celebration.
It will be. After that, the Art Center has me booked all over town. I've been informed in several emails I'll need to get lots of sleep, because I'll be working like a dog. We're going to be out there doing it!
CUBEMUSIC will be on display from Nov. 7 through Jan. 3, at Art Center Sarasota 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Call (941) 365-2032 or visit www.artcentersarasota.org.
Craig Colorusso's "Sun Boxes" will sound forth at the Palm Avenue Parking Garage, Monday, November 4, 2013, 4 - 6 p.m. Fuzion Dance Artists will create an improvisational dance inspired by Colorusso's soundscape.