What is a Mox?

The first Mox I made was back in 1996 while attending School of Visual Arts/Savannah. The name is a fictitious compound word combining “Media” and “Box”. I used a self-portrait Polaroid, cardboard, old light gels, duct tape, kite string (to dangle the Polaroid inside), deformed plastic toy army figures (by melting them), and a re-purposed shop light as the light source. I crudely duct taped the cardboard together to make the “box” with the elements inside and cut a quarter sized whole for the viewport. I didn’t have any idea what to expect, but what I saw and felt when I looked in the viewport was very much like the first time you learn how to ride a bike or swim. That feeling of “oh man, I’m on to something.” I showed my roommate and friends and they all approved. I started making them for friends and family. Christmas gifts, birthdays, etc. I soon started constructing them out of wood and even added move-able elements. For my final in sculpture I constructed a walk-in size box with 5 smaller boxes inside that a viewer could experience. I had pre-recorded an old vinyl record I found at a local thrift store of a hammond organ playing some carnival-esque tunes and played on loop via a walkman installed inside. I gravitated toward freak show/carnival aspects for this artistic outhouse and called it the Whimsiedascopium (I made the name up at about 4:00 a.m. the day my final was due, roughly from latin words and loosely meaning: a weird sight & sound enclosure) Unfortunately, as I was moving to San Francisco soon after, I had to deconstruct this and other boxes and scrap all the materials/throw away. Sadly there are no boxes from this time other than a few that hopefully some friends have held on to) but I do have a video documentation of the Whimsiedascopium that I have digitized and can be viewed below. I won’t lie, the footage is pretty rough, but I’m glad I have some sort of documentation. Oddly enough, I hadn’t heard of Cornell or any other shadow box/diorama artists before. I was thrilled to learn of Cornell while taking a film class under Larry Jordan (a friend and mentee of Cornell) while attending San Francisco Art Institute. I didn’t make any while in San Francisco as space and storage is scarce there. I did make a few while in Charleston around 2000-2002 and actually had them in a show, but for reasons I’m not sure of, I threw them away as well. I thought about them ever so often, wishing to god I at least had that first cardboard franken-art box, but alas they were behind me. I started thinking about them more around 2005-2006. I started sketches for some box ideas and made my next box in 2008 for a good friend and artist, Jillian Guarco. I then made another which took home an honorable mention in 2009 at Hampton Gallery’s Local Art Exhibit. I started making “solar” ones which don’t require electricity; you just hold up to an overhead light or the sun for the light source. They are progressing and I am, of course, documenting them more diligently. This page is dedicated to that long-lost first cardboard, duct taped Polaroid dangling box.

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