The project IT’S TIME TO OPEN THE BLACK BOXES! is an ongoing participatory art project initiated by artist Danae Stratou. Living in Europe in this time of multiple crises, it is ever so easy to fall into a state of fear-induced paralysis. This art project is a reaction to such a prospect. Danae Stratou, invites you to actively participate in the project by contributing one word. By joining our “voices”, the project aims at activating a dialogue constituting, in itself, a collective response to our multifaceted predicament. By opening the ‘Black Boxes’ we symbolically bring to light the words that reflect what threatens us the most, or that which we are desperately eager to preserve.
The project was inaugurated in Athens, Greece, (2012). It has since travelled in Krems, Austria, (2016) and in Paris, France, (2017), Mallorca, Spain (2018) and now in Ghent, Belgium. The open call cycle is reactivated each time the project travels in a new city for a period of 1-3 months prior to each exhibition. Through the website, a wide range of social media and conventional local media; local communities are invited to participate. In this way the Black Boxes, when opened in each different city, reveal local concerns, hopes and fears in a manner that, nevertheless, bind the different cities together.
The installation comprises 100 black boxes designed by the artist. They are geometrically positioned on the floor. Upon entering the exhibition space the viewer is confronted by a mixture of beeping sounds. As one approaches and walks through the installation it becomes apparent that screens inside the boxes are displaying words and numbers. Each word appears for a few seconds before being replaced by either a count-down or a count-up. As the numbers race down toward zero or up to a specifically chosen limit, (always related to the meaning of the word), their pace, style and accompanying sounds resemble a ticking bomb. When the count-down, or count-up, reaches its climax, each box emits the sound of either an explosion or a flat-line. The combination of words, sounds and numbers is designed to create the sensation of tension, crisis, alarm so as to intensify the sense of urgency.
Open the Black Boxes examines how art, together with new technologies, can facilitate mass public dialogue by promoting democratic, sophisticated and advanced models and practices. In a decade marked internationally by political and economic crises, civil society has become more engaged in non-party politics. Open the Black Boxes is ideally placed to facilitate this dialogue and to extend it across national and linguistic divides.