Inspired by the music of Los Angeles’s techno warehouses, Jacqueline Kiyomi Gork has created a visceral site-specific work that plays with the embodiment of sound.
Situated in in the ICA LA’s project room (through May 14), the installation Into/Loving/Against/Lost in the Loop pulls audio from the neighboring exhibition about Milford Graves, the drummer and artist who died in 2021. This includes the sounds Graves made for the ICA show, as well as any visitor interventions. One can, for example, scream in the galleries and Kiyomi Gork’s audio equipment will pick it up in her installation in the adjacent room.
These sounds are filtered through SuperCollider software, which the artist worked on with LA-based DJ and producer Ezra Rubin, also known as Kingdom. Together, Kingdom and Kiyomi Gork created a rhythmic beat.
Within Kiyomi Gork’s installation, one is prompted to traverse a maze-like structure made of clear-cut vinyl curtains hung from a steel armature. While felt and wool line the structure, the sound still bleeds between the galleries of Graves’s and Kiyomi Gork’s shows, creating a unique sonic experience.
As you’re walking through the show, curator Caroline Ellen Liou said, “you’re really questioning your own perception of what you’re hearing. Is that what I just heard in the outside galleries, or is it being distorted?”
Though Kiyomi Gork’s practice has long investigated the ways sound impacts body movement, this is the first time the artist has experimented with beats.
“Rhythm and beats really can take over space,” Kiyomi Gork said. “When you have a beat, your body automatically associates with it. That’s a lot of power.”
Moving through Kiyomi Gork’s installation is both an experiment in choreography and a more philosophical quandary. As in LA’s techno warehouses, one’s body might be drawn into the somatic impulse of a generated rhythm. And, yet, visitors can pick where and how they move through the installation—if they choose to experience it at all.
“You can choose to go left or right, forward or around the corner,” Kiyomi Gork explained. “One of the funny parts is that the maze is clear. You can see everywhere you’re going, but you’re corralled by these clear plastic curtains. And so, what is the investigated is the sound. The sound is changing as you’re turning the corners; what you’re walking toward or away from is the audio.”
The maze structure—as opposed to a labyrinth with a set pathway—allows for individual choices and gives a sense of agency to those walking through. While the materials absorb a certain amount of audio, the bleed between sounds can impact how one processes this audio.
“I’ve placed things very specifically so that you might hear bits of audio when you walk toward something, and I’ve kind of played around like that throughout the entire space,” Kiyomi Gork said.
Not unlike a club, one might bop to Kiyomi Gork and Kingdom’s beats, but what’s heard inside the installation will vary dramatically depending on when one visits it. As Graves’s videos play in adjacent galleries, different sounds will get piped in. And then there’s the fact that the Graves show’s attendees will always generate their own distinct soundtracks.
Kiyomi Gork’s “work sits really comfortably at [the intersection of] both isolating people and then bringing them into this collective experience,” says Liou. “There’s no clear answer. [The experience] is always both/and.”
Ultimately, like a feedback loop, Kiyomi Gork brings to the forefront questions of how we as individuals impact the larger whole of our surrounding environment.