In-progress Update: Locks & Hsaio

As a continuation of our artist spotlight, we posed the same three questions to collaborative pair Damon Locks and Cathy Hsaio. Interested in how their ideas both merge and diverge, we thought to explore the ideas of subtextual themes, narrative, and how each artist handles their own dual practices.

Throughout the summer, ESS, Spudnik Press, and Homeroom will be documenting and sharing various aspects of Ten x Ten: Dual Practice from the artists’ vantage. For now, enjoy a deep dive into the conceptual terroir of Damon Locks and Cathy Hsaio.

Would you describe the themes and underlying ideas Cathy and you are exploring in your project?

DAMON: We are both addressing our ideas about place and how it relates to our own identities. I am definitely very much an urban guy. I like cities. I enjoy public transportation because it’s the meeting place for most communities.

How does narrative manifest if this project?

D: Well, visually, the CTA train takes center stage in our print but works in conversation with Cathy’s patterning score, which interrupts and compliments.

How does collaboration fit into your broader project? Does it vary for visual and audio art?

D: I think within the two pieces, organically, each took the lead on one piece. I think the audio pieces speak a little more about Cathy’s ideas about place. But each piece benefits from another point of view, which is at the core of collaborating.

 Would you describe the themes and underlying ideas Damon and you are exploring in your project?

CATHY: Damon and I wanted to map together our respective geographies and cultural histories. The main sound concept is to mash up of Damon's analog sampling style with this old Taiwanese folk song by the Tsou tribe. It's a traditional ballad usually for flute and voice that describes the landscape of Ali Mountain (阿里山). I arranged it for Sculpture Orchestra, an improvisation-based work for sculptures, molds and musicians that uses the switch from sculptures to instruments as an analogy for the hybrid, shifting nature of cultural exchange. I asked Damon, Ellery Royston, Adam Bach, Chinting Huang and Adam Vida to perform objects from Jennifer Huang, Kelsey Quinn Harrison, Jeff Prokash, Daniel Baird, Eric Leonardson and myself. It was performed really loosely, with a basic sound skeleton, and the idea came out of the experience itself so that was very gratifying.

How does narrative manifest if this project?

C: I was born in the US but immigrated to Taiwan when I was three, and due to parents living in different countries, moved back and forth between Taiwan and the US over 12 times before I graduated high school in Taichung. Migration between landscapes and languages are big themes in my work.

How does collaboration fit into your broader project? Does it vary for visual and audio art?

C: I love collaborating. For me, audio techniques translate into visual ones and vice versa. I've always been a gesamtkunstwerk-type maker. Damon and I have somewhat different visual styles; he is more figurative and I am more abstract. But working with him, especially in the process of making the Spudnik print, was exciting. It pushed me to think more about legibility in my own work and I see that push coming through in other projects already, so I always learn a lot from working with other artists.

Damon Locks is a Chicago based visual artist, educator, vocalist/musician, and deejay. He attended The Art Institute in Chicago where he received his BFA in Fine Arts. Recently, he has been lending his artistic and/or teaching talents to organizations such as Prisons and Neighborhood Arts Project, Art Reach, the Center for Urban Pedagogy, and at UIC. He is a recent recipient of the Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Achievement Award in the Arts and the 2016 MAKER Grant. He also recently completed a music residency at The New Quorum in New Orleans and begins an Artist Studio Residency at the Hyde Park Art Center in April. He has been operating as an Artist Mentor in the Chicago Artist Coalition program FIELD/WORK. Damon has performed internationally throughout Brazil and Japan and at festivals in Sant'Anna Arresi, 2011 & 2013 (Italy), Lisbon, 2009 (Portugal), Saalfelden, 2012 (Austria).

Cathy Hsiao was born in New York City and immigrated to Taiwan at the age of three and back to the US after graduating high school in Taichung, Taiwan. She holds a BA from the University of California Berkeley and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2016). She has been awarded the 2016 Emerging Illinois Artists Triennial Juror Prize; the New Artist Society Fellowship, School of the Art Institute (2014 - 2016), amongst others. Her practice is rooted in a hybrid inquiry between material making and conceptual thinking as a way to construct a parallel consonance between inner cultural/emotional landscapes and larger natural and built environments. She references distinct practices from Asian textiles and the history of Western abstraction to craft entirely new vocabularies of migration and translocation. Using her body to reimagine other bodies, using other bodies to reinterpret her own she builds and records indexes of her environment to feel her size. In doing so she is constantly interested in amplifying the sound of sentiments and objects that have no socially recognized language.


In-Progress Update: Ausikaitis & Bartosekulva

Ten xTen 2017: Dual Practices has begun with artists working in pairs to produce new work utilizing the full-service recording, mixing, and mastering studio at ESS and the fine art editioning services at Spudnik Press Cooperative.

Throughout the summer we’ll be documenting and sharing each pair’s process. First up: AmbrosiaBartosekulva and Melina Ausikaitis tell us a little bit about their collaboration and process for their track recorded in ESS’s Studio A at the end of April: 

The theme of location was only vaguely addressed by Ambrosia and I from the start. After we started talking, what we found common ground on was a place in time. We traded stories about growing up and our parents. It turned out that we had quite a bit in common. The stories that we tell in the recording were retold and fleshed out after this first meeting. I think the link between the two stories is sensory experiences; smells and materials, etc.  

Our two stories and a loose framework of three stages were all we walked into the studio with. I brought my fake guitar and pedals with me.
–Melina Ausikaitis

I was really inspired by a line in Melina's story to use a story I had with almost the same line as an opening. We both had these very similar experiences, yet our processes are on two very different layers. With sound I wanted to create a space that highlighted the contrast of Melina's very visceral tactility and physicality vs my kind of etheric non-locality. I wanted to integrate the two and have multiple layers in our sound as well, some up close and abrasive and some far away and hard to grasp.

I affected multiple channels of my voice and a drum machine through a series of analog effects, handmade electronics and loops. We practiced a few times and had a structure to our piece, but improvised within that framework.
–Ambrosia Bartosekulva


Ten x Ten 2017: Dual Practices

Ten accomplished artists and three Chicago arts organizations are uniting to present Ten x Ten 2017: Dual Practices, an artistic project that commissions and presents new audio and visual artworks.

The 2017 roster of artists all produce compelling work as both visual artists and musicians, and are interested in experimentation and collaboration. The participating artists are Melina Ausikaitis, Ambrosia Bartosekulva, Mark Booth, Cathy Hsaio, Deidre Huckabay, Damon Locks, Lou Mallozzi, Joseph Clayton Mills, Allen Moore, and Sadie Woods.

Ten x Ten 2017: Dual Practices is guest curated by Experimental Sound Studio (ESS), a non-profit, artist-run organization focused on sound in all its exploratory cultural manifestations. ESS is working in partnership with Homeroom and Spudnik Press Cooperative, the Ten x Ten founding organizations. Through the collaboration of these three distinct and accomplished organizations, Ten x Ten offers a truly unique opportunity for ten Chicago artists to produce new collaborative artworks.

Now in it's fifth and most conceptually broad iteration, Ten x Ten 2017 brings together notable Chicago artists whose artistic practices are interdisciplinary. Artists, working in pairs, will produce new work utilizing the full-service recording, mixing, and mastering studio at ESS and the fine art editioning services at Spudnik Press Cooperative.

By considering questions about boundaries and location, the Ten x Ten 2017 will investigate Chicago neighborhood identities, urban change, and comfort in space and place. For example, participating artists, Damon Locks and Cathy Hsiao’s project will present “a hybrid narrative in which a community of sound and space is amplified through the weaving together of a fictional visual and sonic narrative that will result in a blend of what community means to both of them.” In response to Chicago’s rich history in social activism and musical movements, Allen Moore and Sadie Wood’s project “queries the effects, aspirations, and struggles of cultural experiences through visual and audio collage.”

This project will culminate on September 9, 2017, with a public performance and exhibition hosted by Experimental Sound Studio, and the release of a collectable compilation.

Download the Press Release


Ten x Ten Gallery Exhibition at Chicago Art Department

Ten x Ten 2015 Gallery Reception
Friday, November 13, 6:00 - 9:00 PM
Chicago Art Department, 1932 South Halsted
Free Admission
Ben Remsen from the Now Is podcast DJ's


Ten x Ten 2015 Collection

The Ten x Ten 2015 Collection pairs a limited edition LP with a full-color publication.  Designed by Craig Hansen, the publication features each print, statements by each artist/musician pair that illuminates their collaboration, and a foreword by Jordan Martins.

Please join us in celebration of Ten x Ten 2015 at the Release Concert & Exhibition this Saturday, September 12th at Elastic Arts. Purchase tickets here


Ten x Ten Preview

Join Homeroom, Spudnik Press Cooperative and Elastic Arts as we celebrate the hard work and incredible creative output of 20 of Chicago's finest artists and musicians on September 12th when we release Ten x Ten 2015.

Ten x Ten 2015 Release Event
Saturday, September 12, 9:00pm
Elastic Arts, 3429 W Diversey Ave. #208   
Culminating screen prints are presented and final compositions are performed live.