Category Archives: The Happy Box

make8elieve issue #4: OCD

Red & Yellow LightsThe Happy Box was featured in issue #4 of the online artist publication make8elieve (pg 124-125). Click here to view. Make8elieve is a collaborative project between two artists: Michelle Marie Murphy (Ohio) and Baptiste Lefebvre (a.k.a. Cetusss) (Switzerland). More about make8elieve here.


The Happy Box: Light on Foam

I’m almost done with the Happy Box. Here are some photos of light shining on the acoustic foam, the interior of the Happy Box. The light won’t be this saturated. Dim light encourages lingering.Bright Light 01 Bright Light 02 dark_light01Recently I recorded an organist holding long tones and chords at First Congregational Church near CCAD. Next I’ll design the soundtrack based on these chords.

Information about the reception:
CCAD Master of Fine Arts First Year Student Exhibition Reception

Columbus College of Art & Design
Design Studios on Broad 3rd floor, 390 E. Broad St
Friday, December 14, 2012 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Please join us for a reception showcasing the work of first year MFA candidates at CCAD. Light refreshments will be provided. Free parking is available in the lot at the corner of Cleveland Ave. & Broad Street. For a map, please visit:

The Happy Box Is Up

These are the modular panels of the Happy Box. The panels are relatively light, which makes me happy.

Erecting the Happy Box is a three person job (thanks Tony & David).

An overhead shot of the Happy Box. My point-and-shoot camera cannot capture the whole thing. Can you see the spiral shape? If not, take a look at the model in a previous post.

The Happy Box is up! Next I will line it with acoustic foam.

I must also add that today I had the pleasure of visiting the anechoic chamber at Ohio State University’s ElectroScience Lab. Thanks to Jim Moncrief for giving me a tour. The anechoic chamber is the largest of its kind associated with a university in the U.S. I’ve wanted to visit one since I was an undergraduate student, and my research on sensory deprivation (and sound control as it relates to the Happy Box) added fuel to the fire. (Plus, James Turrell and Robert Irwin visited one and that informed their work…) I can imagine it would be unnerving to be in one for more than twenty minutes.

Look at those endless rows of absorbers…

Building the Happy Box

Ten panels down, zero to go. These are 4′ x 8′ plywood frames. One side is corrugated white plastic, the other insulation. Once the panels are hinged they will be formed into a spiral shaped room (see the model in a previous post). The insulation will not be visible as I am lining the entire thing in acoustic foam. It will look a bit like a mini anechoic chamber.

First we brad-nailed the frames together.

My assistant Jared B. liquid-nailing the shit out of a frame.

Insulation is on…

…and magically they are done.

Doing a hinge test-more coming soon.

On another note, I am currently reading a book about William Reich, inventor of the “orgone energy accumulator.” It is strangely relevant to my project.

No Coffins, No Yurts (The Happy Box Isn’t….)

I’m finding that it’s easier to point to what my project isn’t than what it is. There is a lot of research out there on how to psychologically torture someone, deprive him of his senses and perhaps his humanity. There is surprisingly little research on happiness, despite the plethora of self-help books and crunchy-feel-good-baby-boomer-bullshit. I think that Stefan Sagmeister was alluding to this with his Happy Show exhibit (and film).

The Happy Box is no longer a box but a room. My mentor Michael Goodson and I discussed the idea of a box that one would climb into; the verdict was that this sterile environment would in no way be conducive to happiness.
Here are some sketches I made:

And a photograph of a model:

This model was made up of 4″ x 8″ plexi- panels. The textured lining represents the acoustical treatment.

I guess it’s irrelevant now since I’m not going to use it.

I will continue to do materials tests until I find the thing that will satisfy my requirements: easy to work with, streamlined, light, flexible, modular. How will the placement of the body in the space affect the experience? I’m thinking of setting it up so that you lay on your back to experience it. The feeling of surrender.

Robert Pirsig said, “You point to something as having Quality and the Quality tends to go away. Quality is what you see out of the corner of your eye….” That gave me an idea about lighting. Instead of affecting the lights in the space with gels or colored bulbs, why not give people special glasses to wear in the space? I remember 3D movie experiences at amusement parks when I was a kid. Even then the plot-less movie clips seemed dated and crudely executed, but I loved it. It felt like something special to put on those 3D glasses.

What I’ve been reading:

Sensory Deprivation: Fifteen Years of Research edited by John P Zubek. Mr. Zubek’s story is a sad one.

Space and Place by Yi-Fu Tuan

Personal Space by Rober Sommer

Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface by Michael Auping

Bruce Goff: Toward Absolute Architecture by David G. De Long