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It’s like if Marty McFly and Doc Brown were artists.
Aki Onda records everyday sounds on cassette tapes — with a Walkman — mixing the tapes during performances to create abstract sound-environments.
Joining him is San Francisco-based filmmaker Paul Clipson, who films his daily surroundings with a super low-tech, Super 8 camera.
“Paul’s work has the same kind of quality [as mine],” said Onda, who will perform along with Clipson’s visuals in a sound and video installation at Light Industries in Greenpoint on Feb. 23. “It’s really kind of lo-fi and grainy. He also has a similar practice: he shoots film as a diary.”
Onda bought his first Walkman in 1988 from a junk dealer in London and made his first recordings in Morocco soon after.
“I didn’t think I would be using a Walkman for the next 20 years,” said the Japanese-born, Greenpoint-based artist. “I have thousands of cassettes. It doesn’t really make sense to digitize them.”
His collection includes titles like “Birds-Wind-Bells,” “Echo,” “Percussive Noise-Air,” “Revolving Door, “Raindrop Nara [Japan], 1999,” and “Mexico City Footsteps, 2005.”
But other than having such an extensive collection, it’s clear that everything about tapes appeals to the sound artist.
“It’s a specific sound, different from digital,” Onda said. “[Also] you can recycle a cassette. It’s good for Mother Earth.”
Musicality is part of what brought Clipson and Onda together. The two met in the Netherlands in 2009, when their work shared a program at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. In 2011, they created “Ephemeris,” a strange but pleasant seven-minute film. Like a Rrose Sélavy film seen with colorful TV static, the work is dizzying and comforting at once.
For this upcoming performance, Onda and Clipson are collaborating once again, and Onda seems to be confident it will go well.
“I haven’t seen the film yet,” said Onda, who is eagerly awaiting his collaborator’s arrival on Friday. “We have one day to prepare, so it will be a surprise!”
Aki Onda and Paul Clipson at Light Industries [155 Freeman St. near Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, (718) 330–0313, www.issueprojectroom.org]. Feb. 23, 4 pm and 8 pm, $10 suggested donation.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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