Aesthetic Surplus Kompany Presents . . . , was an unprecedented exhibition of new works and a selection of works created over the last 40 years. Sculptures, prints, video and audio systems, electronic and interactive pieces, and live performances will constantly develop and change over the course of the exhibition.
Events and performances included Abstract Elektronika, an interactive system that constantly evolved and modulated sound and video; performed events and real-time interactions with Chamberlain, control elements, content elements, and guests; collaborations between Voltage Control Systems and guests; and performances that collaborate with invited artists with the goal of enhancing their performances via interactive technology.
The Aesthetic Surplus Kompany (A.S.K.) was established in 1976 by Peter Chamberlain, a.k.a. Captain Random, in Vancouver, B.C., Canadada [sic]. Its manifesto stated that art is a verb, not a noun. Art can be witnessed when it is happening in real-time. After that, what we tend to refer to as art is more realistically a commodified document of the act(ion)—more appropriately referred to as aesthetic surplus. Simple.
This exhibition emphasized that premise and maintained the integrity of offering witness to real-time creative activity, primarily through either performed or feedback-responsive audio and video systems fed with sculptural props. Aesthetic surplus from such activity was also presented when real-time activity was not practical.
Ultimately, the challenge was in the ability to actively manipulate the space into a constantly evolving and provocative experience for 23 straight days—a marathon of improvisational activity.
segment of self-controlling interactive installation activated by motion and environmental factors. during ASK Presents: at UH Art Gallery. 08.29.16
EVELYN, the modular feedback responsive sound and video synthesizer sytem has been developed over the previous five years primarily as an element of LRC, the Lithopixel Refactory Collective which involves myself and several printmakers. The printmakers happen to all be involved in skateboarding. Logically, we brought a skateboard ramp into the gallery and they were all invited to participate, The ramp was rigged with some contact mics and a voltage-controlling theremin positioned so the boarders would activate it as they passed by.
I recall the involvement of Cassie Fergusen. Lucas Cohan, Josh Cunningham, and I think Atis Puampei
Peiling Kao was a recently hired dance professor at UHM who had previously worked with one of my ex-students in a dance company in Oakland. Upon welcoming her, I was also thrilled to find out her partner Gretchen was a skilled and veteran sound artist. Gretchen accepted my invitation to collaborate on performing the system while Peiling danced.
My intent for this performance was to delegate control of elements of the sound system by moving near both a physical and optical theremin. This simply was not very effective due to my own inability to set up the sensors properly. (this was not noticable to audience of course and we had a wonderful live jam regardless)
I first met Sumr Mie and Cocoa Chandelier in one of my Expanded Arts classes around 1995. Their final project was a dancerly performance in an outdoor amphitheater. Since then, I have followed their carrers through Butoh-based experimental work with the Iona Pear Dance Co. in Honolulu and the later evolution of that as Cocoa's Ginko Marachino performance group. Cocoa even took and independent study with me during his MFA in dance. Let me say I have the greatest respect for both of these performers and was thrilled when they accepted my invitation to interact with the space and system the ASK installation offered up.
I must mention that their simple entrance from the entry way to the interior performance space involved incredibly slow and deliberate movement occupying about 15 minutes before they made it into the main space... one of the more wonderfully focusing devices I have witnessed.
Imaikalani Kalahele is a long-time Native Hawaiian Activist... painter, sculptor, musician, poet, community leader and organizer. He has been a great inspiration to me and we have worked together for almost 25 years.
It just happened that I had several hip-hop artists taking my sound class for a couple semesters. I offered up the system to them in hopes having a non-beat oriented sound back-up would challenge them to move in different directions. As it was, they started paying attention to their voice activated sonic and visual elements but eventually moved back into their comfort zones. This set up also offered them a vehicle to formalize some of their works in process... as intended.