Got The Power is a series of interactive public sculptures constructed out of vintage boom boxes. The sculptures broadcast local peoples' favorite music, oral histories and ambient sounds, native to the area. I compile all of these different audio recordings into a "mixtape", which is broadcast online as well as from the boom box sculpture itself. Ultimately each sculpture is an interactive public art work, which is also a community portrait, through audio recordings.
I will be creating the newest version of this project in Shafer, Minnesota; an hour outside of Minneapolis. This time I am going to truly construct a tower of boom boxes. The tower will actually be functional. I will invite local participants to play their own audio recordings, add their favorite song titles to a public playlist, and record their memories about their community. I will then collect these contributions mixing them with ambient sound specific to the area, and create a "mixtape" that can be played both online and through the boom box tower. People will also be welcome to play their own music and audio recordings from the tower on site.
This is an ongoing project that began during a public artist residency at The Laundromat Project in New York City. So far, versions of Got The Power have been installed in Washington Heights, New York, Bowery, New York, and West Baltimore Maryland. My process is to travel to historically-significant neighborhoods and invite community members, young and old, to collaborate in making a "mixtape" which archives their favorite songs and stories. Referencing the role boom boxes have played in urban communities and within popular culture, the resulting sculpture and soundscape is a symbol of pride, power, and autonomy. By collaborating with local residents to complete each version of this project, I am creating an accessible and site-specific work that offers its collaborators an opportunity to record their own history. You can find out more information about Got The Power: Boom Boxes as Community Soundtracks, at the project website.
Why is this version of Got The Power so special?
This is the first time I will be working in a outside, in a rural area. I am also working in a very different region of the country. I am very excited about the potential impact this piece will have on this community and the "mixtape" that will be created from this scenario. This version will be installed outside, in a park, so I will have the opportunity to build on as large a scale as I would like. Previously the size and aesthetic of the boom box sculptures has been limited by space and resources. This installation is very important because it is an opportunity to show how meaningful and culturally significant this project is, in a variety of communities. It will create an interesting comparison to the other communities I have worked in.
What is the funding for?
In order to make the best use of the space in the park, I would like to construct a tower of boom boxes on a very large scale. This will require upwards of 180 vintage boom boxes. I would like to make sure I have the resources to acquire as many vintage boom boxes as possible without having to be concerned about cost. This goal is for this version of the boom box sculpture to be installed in the park for at least 10 months. Since this installation will be outside, in Minnesota, I am going to have to take a significant number of steps to weather proof it, and make sure it is functional for the entire 10 months, even in the Winter. I will also have to take additional steps to make sure it is structurally sound and stable because it is outside in a harsh environment. This may include constructing a base for it and renting the use of a small crane for adding boom boxes to the top levels. I want to upgrade my sound recording and editing equipment as well, so I can process the mass amount of audio files I collect efficiently and at high quality.
What if I surpass my funding goal?
My funding goal for this project is pretty modest. The more money I raise, the better I can make this project. Money beyond my funding goal will allow me to make this project bigger, more visually dynamic and have better sound quality. It will allow me acquire all the proper equipment and supplies, to make sure this boom box tower functions in an engaging way, for an extended length of time, providing a more significant impact on the local community and beyond.
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