Sun Boxes Installed At Vermont State Parks
07/24/12 12:50PM Matt Bushlow  Download MP3
A collection of twenty curious wooden boxes have made appearances in a handful Vermont state parks this summer.
Each box is a speaker with a small solar panel mounted on top. Together, they create a meditative and tranquil sound installation called Sun Boxes.
Musician and artist Craig Colorusso (from Arkansas?) created Sun Boxes and has installed them in public spaces in several states and now in Vermont.
Birds, gentle breezes in the trees, and happy children playing on the beach are the typical sounds of a Saturday afternoon at Elmore State Park. But from during the first week of July, there was a new sound in the park. Or rather, twenty of them.
The twenty birch speakers known as Sun Boxes were arranged in a field near the shore of Lake Elmore. The sound they made constantly changed, building and receeding like the calm waves against the nearby beach.
A handful of visitors walked in the field, taking in the sounds.
"At first I was apprehensive because I'm not into the noise thing - that's half the reason of living out here, but pedaling down our bikes, it was really nice, really tranquil, kinda just fits the environment and atmosphere."
That's Scott, who lives about a mile away from Elmore State Park. He and his wife, Jeanene, had read about Sun Boxes in the local paper and biked down to check out the installation. Jeanene was a little less skeptical than her husband.
"I was kind of, you know, looking forward to coming down right away, and actually forgot about it until I was on the bike coming down and I was like, "What is that? Oh, the boxes... I am gonna..." I thought I missed them, so I was really excited to see that they're still here. Kinda bummed they're going to be gone so soon. I'd like to see them back again."
Craig Colorusso created Sun Boxes. He has installed them in three Vermont state parks so far: Elmore, Grand Isle, and Knight Point. He will bring them to Silver Lake this week and Camp Plymouth the first week of August
"...The thing I love about Sun Boxes is that I feel the sound is loud enough to engulf the participant but at the same time you can, all the ambient sounds from the landscape leak in and it sounds great..."
The sound that Sun Boxes make as a group is constantly shifting, changing, and blending with the environment, but it also adds up to an actual chord: a B-flat six.
When Colorusso began this project in 2008, he wanted, in his words, something that sounded "like daytime, something that was uplifting." So he chose a B-flat, but he also decided to add a sixth note, just to make things interesting.
"And then I made a whole bunch of recordings of B-flat chords,
and I really love dissonant music, but I wanted this to be soothing. And I feel
like the sixth adds just a tinge of dissonance, to kind of give you that
opportunity to think about your life - if you choose - or not, and ultimately
it just resolves."
It's hard to know whether or not anyone in Elmore spent time contemplating his or her life, but Chris and Ryan, two buddies from Massachusetts, who were visiting nearby Stowe for a wedding, agreed on how it made them feel.
"It's cool to see something different, art installation that, like, no one's really doing. And, um, just really relaxing."
"Extremely relaxing, like, really relaxing. I could probably lay on the grass for hours."
Colorusso often sits on a wooden bench and listens to Sun Boxes during the day while they play and watches visitors wander through the field, whether he's on Martha's Vineyard or in Cleveland.
He says the sounds stay fresh for him, because the environment adds its own character in every town he visits. The sounds of each town give him new opportunities to reflect on his life - and the art he's created.
Note: Sun Boxes will be at Silver Lake State Park this week, July 25-27; and at Camp Plymouth from August 3-5.