Note on my recent work
We are in a state of political and cultural turmoil. Our president embraces the foriegn autocrat accused of aiding his electoral success. This success, while seemingly abetted from abroad, was clearly marked by a broad domestic support founded on xenophobia, racism, distrust of elites and experts, and of those who uphold traditional democratic virtues and norms. These themes have compounded since the election, standing out more starkly with each lie and insult the president and his regime spew forth.
My most recent work takes the story of my grandfather as its entry point. During World War II he was an engineer who contributed to the Manhattan Project, bringing forth nuclear weaponry into the world. He was a man of many secrets, with far-left political associations, and who conducted multiple romantic liaisons outside of his marriage. My resolve to make work stemming from his story was born from my friendship with my frequent collaborator, Kei Ito, whose grandfather was in Hiroshima when the Americans dropped the first atomic weapon there at the conclusion of the war.
The story of the development of nuclear weapons and their legacy since WWII carry many of the same questions and shadows that we grapple with today. Secrecy, espionage, the threat of political extremists, the suppression of scientifically-informed understanding of world-threatening risks – these are but a handful of the resonances that ring out now as they did in 1945. Beyond the destructive technology it introduced, what is the bequest of this project, founded to resist the Nazis, by highly educated immigrant elites, suspicious of secrecy, and yet committed to the democratic system of their new home? What might we learn from their compromises and their awful mistakes? These questions are the backdrop of my art.
In my work I seek to establish sonic spaces and moods that evoke and elaborate the perils of that past era, and as well as our own. I hope that by doing so I might provoke the listener to engage in purposeful, attentive and critical listening as an act with political ramifications.