P H I L I P R O S S M U N R O
THE BOX SERIES:
When you are born they put you in some form of receptacle, a basket or a crib perhaps. You move through life in one form of receptacle or another. When I was born they took me home and put me in a box. It had alarm monitored systems for temperature, light, humidity and air flow. It was a big box measuring 6 ft. x 5 ft. by 2.5 ft. with double glass doors at the waist height of the average adult. Behind the doors was a removable washable mat. I was perfectly healthy and the Box was my crib.
The behavioral Psychologist B. F. Skinner had designed it. He marketed it under the name of ‘The Baby Tender’. In our family it was simply referred to as ‘The Box’. My brother and sister also lived in the box, but not at the same time that I did. In the box I was unencumbered, with no need for blankets, as a diapered infant I could roll about and eventually, as I grew, I could enjoy toys that were hung in the box. I am told that I was taken out of the box to be fed and played with.
Many are horrified by the concept of the box denigrating it as a Behavioral Experiment. Urban lore had it that Skinner's daughter was left for years in the box, that she eventually sued him and then committed suicide. None of this is true. She is an artist residing in Britain. I believe that the box, in some ways, echoed the womb, except of course for the fact that it had large windows. There was complete freedom without blankets pinning me to the bottom of a crib. I had my own creative control and it was uniformly warm.
The Skinner Series is a reflection on situations, emotions and thought. It uses texts including partially hidden words in a manner illustrating the vagaries of what we may recognize, divulge or choose to carry as potentially secretive circumstances in the boxes we inhabit. It co-relates the psychological experiences of emotional thought and visceral reaction.
This series has never been exhibited.
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