stolen synthesis, no. 5
Drawing from theories and positions within critical race and ethnic studies, critical pedagogy, and sound studies, my work is situated in a critical and conceptual framework exploring themes of ambiguity, liminality, and memory that become part of a larger political project to think through notions of fluid identities and the slippages of cultural definitions. Recently, as with this project, my work is sound-based and experiential, inviting viewers and listeners to engage with the work beyond casual observation. This particular work, “stolen synthesis no. 5” deals with the negotiated spaces of mixed-race people who struggle with language learning and reading comprehension as a result of their multi-lingual experiences. While working at the interstices of sound-based art, conceptual art practices, and research-based methodologies of learning, this work highlights the experiences of many multi-lingual people whose identities are almost always called into question. By complicating the ways in which language is presented and “performed”, this work disorients and confuses speakers of English by breaking down a question into an 8-minute stream of letters. This slow presentation of text is then further complicated by the addition of a second projection of the same text offset by a minute, creating seemingly nonsensical combinations of letters that further confuse and engage the viewers. Through this exploration of an “imagined sound” (engaged viewers attempt to spell out the letters into coherent words and conventional sentence structures, “hearing” words formulate in their heads), this piece reconfigures one’s relationship to sound within a space and begins to ask questions such as, “What are you listening to?”, “What are you listening for?”, and even, “Are you listening?”
Through this work (and work similar to it), I wish to foreground the experiences of historically marginalized people by highlighting those particular moments of negotiation and subject the viewers to confront them on their own terms. By placing the viewers into these spaces of negotiation, I hope to open a space in which their privileges, positions, and assumptions get called into question.
Alejandro T. Acierto is a clarinetist, composer, and multimedia artist whose innovative work in contemporary music, performance art, and art installation has led Time-Out New York to call him a “maverick.” He employs a multi-media aesthetic integrating music, sound, performance, and installation that explores notions of fluid identities and the slippages of cultural definitions. His musical and performative works have been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, ThingNY, Loadbang in New York, and Vox Humana in Montreal. He has exhibited installations at the Arts in Bushwick SITEFEST in Brooklyn and as part of the New Voices In Live Performance show at the Center for Performance Research. He had his first solo exhibition at Untitled Gallery at Marwen in Chicago and his work stolen synthesis no. 1 has also been distributed by Trifecta Publishing for their premiere art box edition. Acierto has attended residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Banff Centre in Canada, and High Concept Laboratories in Chicago. An avid performer of contemporary classical music, he is also a founding member of Ensemble Dal Niente with whom he was awarded the Kranichsteiner Music Prize for Interpretation at the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt.
Acierto holds a Masters’ degree in Contemporary Performance from Manhattan School of Music and received Bachelors’ degrees in clarinet performance and composition from DePaul University. He currently works and resides in Chicago where he is completing his MFA in New Media Arts at University of Illinois at Chicago.