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Julian Abraham
St. Celfer
Yu’an Huang
Esteban Pérez
David Schafer
Rouzbeh Shadpey

Curated by Sam Simon and Pablo José Ramírez

Pneuma is conceived as the original creative act by Classical Greek philosophy; the vitality of breathing transformed into expression. Breathing as sound at the service of linguistic public interaction. Voicing as a form of being in the world, that when merged into the collectiveness of society, resonates as a powerful political tool.

Liberal politics are, to an extent, organized through the regime of identity and citizenship in which voicing acts as representation, as the foundation of representative democracy. The articulation of a sonic utterance as one’s self-identification becomes the shtick of citizenship. What cannot be voiced is ostracized as politically null. Certainly, not every ontological enunciation is to be expressed by voicing one’s identification (whatever this might be). One example of this is the abstraction of voice found in Inuit throat singing, where voice serves as a rhythmic bias that works more as an invocation. The expressiveness of sounds through the pneuma has a multiplicity of channels, the voicing of identity is only one of them, hegemonized by liberal politics.

By Voicing Abstraction, we take aim at the inherent contradiction of placing these two words together. Learning from the legacy of indigenous art, abstraction is much more than the refusal of representation, as opposed to Western modernity; it’s the articulation of meaning at the service of a specific community, used as a strategy to safeguard non-colonial memory. Abstraction, in this case, is not unintelligible but enigmatically literal. With this Current, we are examining practices of voicing that take distance from the politics of representation, articulating spaces where indigenous silences, the poetics of sound and the ritualistic dimension of language open the space for a different kind of the self, one not mediated by the state or by the taxonomy of liberal politics. Voicing Abstraction’s first entry, Wave #7, presents a diverse collection of artists, practitioners, and thinkers. Their work takes the form of hybrid essays, sound pieces, jam sessions, images, and intimate conversations.

David Schafer presents Binary Complex, a multifaceted piece originally conceived of and presented between 2017 and 2021. Taking inspiration from the work of Russian composer, Alexander Scriabin’s Color Music, Binary Complex utilizes sculpture, sound, and print to update Scriabin’s theories for the contemporary world. Taking the association of a musical note with a color, Schafer presents two sound pieces with two very different scores. The presentation here of both pieces, one using a three-piece stringed orchestra playing sheet music, the other a binary digital print played by a computer, Schafer deepens the exploration of data in the binary and the aural.

Royale Projects
Los Angeles, CA

91” x 44” x 44”
Fabricated and powder coated steel, chain, printed aluminum signs, hardware, AI generated faces
Displayer Slit Scan No. 7
Digital print on aluminum
14” x 28”

Displayer addresses the nature of selfhood within the realm of artificial intelligence and real life, and that appropriates the form of a commercial point-of-purchase merchandise display rack. Attached are signs with abstracted logos for social media and consumer platforms and one sign presents two AI generated faces. These faces are fictional, phantoms that identity and politics are projected onto by the viewers. Two lengths of steel chain hang down and loop from the arms of the rack. The commercial display rack is a form of relational architecture of the built world. It is where the dissemination of goods and commodities are released into the social sphere and contribute to the construction of the self within the physical realm. Here, the human is entwined within an aggregate of data, images, texts, and locations that is folded into the collective, absorbed and correlated for targeting and marketing. Individuals have become dividuals. The construction of self, the socially engineered dividual is not a self that can be contained by or understood as an individual autonomous subject.Our data-double confronts us as an assemblage of surveillance and data analytics, confusing what constitutes the individual and creating an uncanny para-self.

Displayer Slit Scan No. 7, 2021, is a digital print on aluminum that presents vertical bands or slices of AI generated faces that are intermixed with slices of abstracted social media and consumer logos. The formatting reference to the slit scan filter used in video and media plays with the idea of an aggregated and parallel self.

Performed by three members of the Isaura String Quarte
2 hours and 35 minutes

Betsy Rettig: Cello
Madeline Falcone: Viola
Emily Call: Violin

Performed at Royale Projects, Los Angeles, CA
July 31, 2021

On Saturday July 31st at Royale Projects as part of Gallery Weekend LA, Tonal Duet was performed by 3 members of the Isaura String Quartet. Starting at 4:30, the continuous performance was performed by two musicians at a time. The audience was welcome to come in and out of the performance.

Tonal Duet is the musically scored version of “Binary Complex” included in the current exhibition “Off the Charts”. The performance is contextualized by the exhibition “Off the Charts” at Royale Projects featuring works by Josh Callaghan, Luftwerk, Ken Lum, Kristin McIver, and David Schafer that transform the visual representation of data and analytics into contemporary artworks.

Tonal Duet Program

Josh Callaghan
Ken Lum
Kristen McIver
David Schafer

Royale Projects
432 S. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Royale Projects is pleased to announce Off the Charts featuring works by Josh Callaghan, Luftwerk, Ken Lum, Kristin McIver, and David Schafer that transform the visual representation of data and analytics into contemporary artworks. The world in which we live in is almost entirely governed by algorithms. The volume of data being produced, gathered, analyzed, and stored has never been greater. Works included in this exhibition merge art and information making critical commentary of an increasingly networked age. 

Binary Complex is comprised of sculpture, sound, and print that structurally explore the idea of binaries using composition, color, sound, and data. The sculpture includes 2 sets of 12 bins with each color assigned a note based on the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin’s synesthetic theory of tone and color from 1909 (A-green, C-red, D-yellow, and F#-blue). Alternating the different color-note combinations from the 924 ways the two sets of bins can be arranged, Binary Complex Permutation: Alternating Score for Tonal Duet creates the digital form of the algorithmically generated sound playing throughout the space while Binary Complex Tonal Duet Score presents the musical notation that provides a score for musicians to perform using traditional instruments. 

Card image
Installation views
Photo: Rubin Diaz

102” x 102”
Printed graphic on adhesive perforated vinyl mesh
Installation view

Amy Barkow
Leslie Brack
David Schafer

November 14-December 18, 2020

Mandarin Plaza
970 N. Broadway St. #204

Untitled Logos No. 5: A Morphology of Exchange takes the form of an advertising façade combining a selection of thirty modified corporate logos from a variety of categories. This work explores how advertising codes are transferred to the consumer. By virtue of abstraction, these logos have been altered and simplified into modernists tropes, where the content and specific identity has been removed. This reduces them to forms of color and code, mimicking the corporate landscape we inhabit. The code is a form of socialization and generates a formal set of social relations analogous to money. The collected logo-signs represent a selection from banks, credit cards, oil and gas, fast food, fashion, media, entertainment, auto industries, and the military. The advertising images stage a realm of self-referential signs, and the individual is distinguished by their random selection of objects in the domain of consumption. 

I am interested in how all of these relations form a system in the industrial capitalist framework of the political economy, and where the individual is alienated by signs, and social relations are fetishized. As a play on the concept of center, Logos, is also a term used in Theology, Linguistics, and Philosophy to represent ways of theorizing the concepts of presence and origin. The context of Mandarin Plaza is significant for its history in Los Angeles and Chinese immigration and how it is structurally laid out as a mall with two levels and open floorplan representing a design strategy from the 1960’s. Immigration laws encouraged new residents into Chinatown and Mandarin Plaza which is the first major commercial center built in the Chinatown neighborhood and is continuing to attract new commercial growth. 

Foyer-LA is located in a former retail space at Mandarin Plaza and the effect of the perforated window graphic suggests multiple viewing situations. It prevents one from seeing into the gallery space but allows one to see out to the mall from the inside and observe pedestrians and viewers. This panopticon situation entails surveillance while being hidden from view behind the window. In addition, I am in interested in The Arcades Project of Walter Benjamin from the 1920’s, regarding the Parisian arcades, shops, street life and the flaneur, and how one could see their reflection superimposed onto the object of desire featured in the shop windows. I continue to be interested in the writings of William Burroughs on “societies of control”, The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord, and more recently Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism and Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, and how they continue to speak about spectacle, consumerism, and appearances in society. With newer opportunities for surveillance from the panopticon to digital tracking and data mining, the authoritarianism of our society is invisibly woven into the new models of the social sphere. Untitled Logos No. 5: A Morphology of Exchange is a form of rebranding to question the way in which society is owned by neo-colonialist and multi-national corporations. 

Colosseum, 2020

Hoosac Institute: Journal No. 6
Curated by Jenny Perlin

An-My Lê 
Bibi Calderaro
Cristóbal Lehyt
David Schafer 
Frank Carlberg
Heide Fasnacht
Jennifer Reeves
Jon Davies
Juliet Koss
Mai-Lin Cheng
Mary Lum
Paul Mcdevitt and Luke Dowd
Rachel Urkowitz 
Regine Basha 
Sara Vanderbeek 
T. Kim-Trang Tran 
Tony Bluestone

The Hoosac Institute is a curated online platform for text and image focusing on pieces that don’t fit conventional disciplinary narratives.

Art Center College of Design
Faculty Dining Room – Hillside Campus
Pasadena, CA

Jan 15 – May 15

Laura Cooper
Joshua Holzmann
Mitchell Kane
Tom Knechtel
Olga Koumoundouros
Allison Miller
Ryan Perez
Jean Rasenberger
Jessica Rath
David Schafer
Tony Zepeda

Binary Complex-Permutation: BL/YL/GN/RD Alternating Score for Tonal Duet
36” x 42”
Epson print on Epson paper

The audio composition and visual animation was generated from a permutation based on two sets of 12 units that are composed equally of two colors. Each of the four colors are assigned a note based on Alexander Scriabin’s ‘color music’ from 1909. The permutation of possible arrangements is 924 for each set. The musical score represents the layering of the two visual sets, one set starting at the beginning, and the other starting at the end. The total length is 3 hours and 5 minutes.

Untitled Logos No. 4, 2020
Epson print on Epson paper, mounted.
34 x 84 inches

Untitled Soundtrack, 2020
Day One: Corporate jingles, instructional, self-help, spoken word, sound effects, production music
Day Two: Miles Davis, Angela Davis, Malcom X
PA speaker, turntable, records, amp, misc. hardware

This work is compiled from corporate trademarks and logos representing fast food, automobiles, gas co., banks, media, and credit cards. The texts and specific identifying content has been removed from each one to leave the abstract form and colors of the logo itself. The word Logos is not only plural for more than one logo, but is also a term used in Theology, Linguistics, and Philosophy to represent different ways of theorizing the concepts of center, presence, ground, or origin. In addition, there was a selection of audio comprised of corporate jingles, spoken word, instructional, self-help, on day one, and Miles Davis records on day two that will be emitted from an outdoor PA speaker.
DRIVE-BY-ART (Public Art in This Moment of Social Distancing) Los Angeles

Organized by Warren Neidich, Renee Petropoulos, Michael Slenske and Anuradha Vikram.
Two locations will be divided East and West of Western Avenue over two weekends.

Art Center College of Design
Spotlight Gallery

Fine Art Department
870 S. Raymond Ave. 
Pasadena, CA

Jan 15 – May 15

Laura Cooper
Joshua Holzmann
Mitchell Kane
Tom Knechtel
Olga Koumoundouros
Allison Miller
Ryan Perez
Jean Rasenberger
Jessica Rath
David Schafer
Tony Zepeda

Red Skelton: Vertical Glitch #1, 2018 
photocopy, collage, Liquitex on Bristol 
12” x 9”
Joseph McCarthy: Vertical Glitch #1, 2018 
photocopy, collage, Liquitex on Bristol 
12” x 9”

Audio CD edition of 100.


Pink and Blue is composed of a recorded interview that was conducted with Angela Davis in 1971. The voice of the person conducting the interview was removed, leaving only the responses by Angela Davis. These responses were processed with an echo and delay. This act of removing created gaps that were each replaced with five seconds of pink noise, a random noise having equal energy per octave. The word pink also references the color Baker-Miller Pink that was used in prison cells in the 70′s, to control and oppress inmates. Interweaving within these tracks are processed samples from the song, “Grinnin’ in Your Face”, a blues song by Son House.

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