Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thoughts from John Common about the Box Project

This box project brings together a bunch of things that I love… To wit:

First of all, I have a thing for boxes. I always have. I realize now that I inadvertently collect them. They’re tucked in and out of plain view all over my house. But then it dawned on me—I think everyone has a thing for boxes to some extent. I bet everyone has at least one box tucked away somewhere in their house that they fill with strange little objects… a stone… a bottle cap… an old love letter… a silver ring.. a piece of metal. I love the unspoken process we use to decide what goes inside the box and what stays outside. It’s a big decision.

Music has a lot of boxes… or maybe it’s like boxes inside of boxes. A box of related notes is a melody. A box of words are lyrics. A box of sounds and words is a song. A box of related songs is a record. A box of musician/artists is a band. This new record we’re working on is boxes inside of boxes inside of boxes.

I even like the word: B-O-X.

box 1 |bäks|
1) a container with a flat base and sides, typically square or rectangular and having a lid: a hat box.
• the contents of such a container : she ate a whole box of chocolates that night.
• short for boom box.
• informal a casing containing a computer.
• ( the box) informal chiefly Brit. television or a television set : light entertainment shows on the box.
• informal a coffin : I always thought I'd be in a box when I finally left here.
• historical a coachman's seat.
• vulgar slang a woman's vagina.
2) an area or space enclosed within straight lines, in particular
• an area on a printed page that is to be filled in or that is set off by a border : a picture of Sandy was in the upper right-hand box.
• an area on a computer screen for user input or displaying information.
• ( the box) (also the batter's box) Baseball the rectangular area occupied by the batter.
• Baseball the rectangular area behind home plate for the catcher ( catcher’s box), or those near first and third bases, in foul territory, for each base coach ( coach’s box).
• ( the box) Soccer the penalty area : he curled in a shot from the edge of the box.
3) a small structure or building for a specific purpose, in particular
• a separate section or enclosed area within a larger building, esp. one reserved for a group of people in a theater or sports ground or for witnesses or the jury in a law court : a box at the opera | the jury was now in the box.
• Brit. a small country house for use when hunting or fishing.
4) a protective casing for a piece of a mechanism.
• informal short for gearbox .
5) a mailbox at a post office, newspaper office, or other facility where a person may arrange to receive correspondence : write to me care of PO Box 112.

Secondly, I’ve always been drawn to art that takes place in boxes. Assemblage is a term that I just learned to describe this kind of art. I love how an artist can create a little world inside a box—beautiful, fragile, impossibly fascinating. Why is it that when we put something in a box, it automatically becomes a little more precious? It’s magic, probably. Box magic.

Thirdly, I am more and more fed by collaboration. I love seeing how a work can evolve and deepen through collaboration. I hope that is evident in my band: John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light, as well as in our new record. But I also want to collaborate across the fences of medium and genre. Painters, sculptors, film makers, musicians, writers – we should do more things together!

So when I saw a recent assemblage work by Alicia Bailey, it all clicked. A box project collaboration between artists of all kinds, inspired or informed, hopefully, by some aspect of my new record. All of this, of course, is just an excuse to rub elbows with more creative people… to make more art… to be inspired by your work… to maybe play a role in your creative process…

So I’m hoping you’ll want to do this. Think of it as an art vacation—a chance to get away from whatever it is that you’re doing for a short while, to collaborate and create a little world in a box.

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