Up = Out: A Sun Ra Mixtape is a meditation on the many materialities of audio culture, by way of Sun Ra (1914–1993), the legendary composer, bandleader, keyboardist, poet, and philosopher. The installation was prompted by the exhibition Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow: Sound, Black Study, and the Multidisciplinary Artist, in the Tang’s atrium from April 13 – 16, which paired the early art and archives of Sun Ra with contemporary sonic and sound-inspired artworks. Ra, best known for evoking the outer spaceways in his music, is widely credited with inaugurating Afrofuturist and Afrosurrealist movements in art, music, and literature.
The elevator contains cassette and vinyl recordings of Sun Ra, and “mixtapes” compiled by Skidmore College Professor Adam Tinkle and students from his course “Black Studies, Sound, and Technology.” Tinkle’s mixtape, which is playing on cassette in the elevator includes the Sun Ra tracks Planet Earth, Pleiades, Spaceship Lullaby, Nebulae, I Am an Instrument, Sun Song, and Spontaneous Simplicity. Visitors are invited to make their own Sun Ra mixtapes, or to exchange the tape that’s playing for a new one, and to experience the tactility and physical scale of pre-digital music formats, all while vertically “traveling the spaceways” in the elevator.