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Secrets of MASS MoCA: Codex Solis

On the roof of MASS MoCA lies a 230-foot long grid of solar panels, providing the museum with 7% of our power.  These panels go by the name of Codex Solis, part of All Utopias Fell by artist Michael Oatman, which also includes The Shining and The Library of the SunCodex Solis does more than supply us with energy—it presents us with a message, a hidden message.

The solar panels are organized to create a phrase relating back to the sun and solar energy.  The quote is by a well known author, but Oatman won’t tell us who.   Each solar panel represents a letter.  Mirrors scattered among the panels represent spaces between words.

Despite the exhibit being up for over a year, no one has been able to read the secret message.  The first person to crack the code will receive a lifetime membership at MASS MoCA.

To solve the riddle, Oatman encourages us to interact with the piece.  Watching the birds and planes fly by in the mirrors may bring the inspiration you need to figure it out.  You can get different views of the message from the fourth floor of MASS MoCA and outside The Shining.

All Utopias Fell considers the potential for solar power.  The pieces  all revolve around character Donald Carusi, who was a 1970’s industrial worker fixated on solar energy, building a spaceship out of an Airstream to orbit the sun.

Unfortunately for Donald Carusi, the Airstream, also known as The Shining, crash landed at MASS MoCA.  Fortunately for us, that means we can explore it.  After climbing the stairs through an old boiler plant, visitors will reach the old Airstream.  Inside is The Library of the Sun, his laboratory destined to take him through space.  You can investigate his curious den by perusing his books, music, and other possessions.  Reading his notes will be a bit difficult because he forgot a pencil, resulting in his recording observations through the arts-and-crafts staple of God’s Eyes.

All Utopias Fell is opened seasonally May-October, but don’t let that stop you from finding the hidden message in Codex Solis.

Stay tuned for more Secrets of MASS MoCA.

By Linnea DiPillo

Posted October 7, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Secrets of MASS MoCA, Solar energy
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