It’s Time To Open The Black Boxes!

A project by Danae Stratou, 2012

The Initiative

Greece, Europe and indeed the World are experiencing a period of multiple crises – economic, social, political, environmental. IT’S TIME TO OPEN THE BLACK BOXES! Is a participatory art project initiated by artist Danae Stratou. Living in Greece in this time of multiple crises, it is quite easy to fall into a state of fear-induced paralysis. As a reaction to this the artist resolved to act by means of an art project. Her hope was for this artwork to reflect and to ease Athens’ anxious struggle to carry on. Distanced from traditional commercial practices, it aspired to undercut its own costs, to give voice and to assist materially as many as people possible, to help attain a deeper understanding of our collective predicament, to empower a joint response to the paralysis that is causing us to “frieze up”. The project targets at activating a dialogue that will induce us to react in a collective manner. By opening the “Black Boxes”we symbolically bring to light the words which reflect, what we are in danger of losing and need to rescue, or what threatens us today.

Installation description

The installation comprises 100 black boxes geometrically positioned on the floor. *The boxes were custom made out of thick black aluminium sheet metal. They are positioned on the floor equidistant from another, so as to form a rectangular grid covering an area of 100m2 situated at the centre of the gallery. The boxes’ lids are open at an angle. Inside each box a black screen is positioned at a 450 degree angle in relation to the floor. The boxes are surfaced with translucent mirrors, thus creating the illusion that they are filled to the rim with a liquid substance and that the screens within them are submerged in polluted water akin to an oil slick.

Upon entering the exhibition space the viewer is confronted by a mixture of sounds such as beeps, heart beats, explosions and flat-lines. As one approaches and walks through the installation it becomes apparent that the screens inside the boxes are displaying words and numbers. Each word appears for a few seconds before being replaced by either a countdown or a count-up (depending on the word). As the numbers race (down toward zero or up to a specially chosen limit), their pace, style and accompanying sounds resemble a ticking bomb. When the countdown, or count-up, reaches its climax, each box emits the sound of either an explosion or a flat-line. These sounds are designed so as to intensify the sensation of tension, crisis, and alarm.

*The boxes were designed by the artist and were produced with the support of ELVAL, one of Greece’s leading aluminium companies.