Jason Akira Somma - Because I Hate Technology.

image courtesy of Loes Schakenbos 
  Way back when ODD. New York was exclusively online and the 164 Ludlow store location was in its planning phase I had the pleasure of meeting Jason and his work. I've always been fond of the concept of retro-futurism and his work spoke to me in a profound way with its abstract commentary on where we were, where we are, and where we are going. Combining out-dated technology with modern techniques and hacks, Jason is able to create in real-time what some full-time graphic designers, photographers, and film-makers would spend weeks, if not months, developing in the post-editing process.
  We collaborated for an installation in which I conceived a mannequin that was half man, half woman, which for me was a commentary on the irrelevance of gender-assignment as it pertains to clothing (this was actually the smallest part of what this became). Jason then ran a camera through its body to come out of its forehead like a third eye. He developed a hack that allowed him to do a long-exposure on live video feed that would then be routed into a wall of vintage security monitors giving visitors an immediately unique experience the second they walked through our doors. This installation, much like a sci-fi fun-house mirror, lived at the front of the store for three years. People would not only come in to shop, but to experience the environment. Since then Jason's work has evolved tremendously, and his first solo museum exhibition opened recently at the Gemeentemuseum (GEM) in The Netherlands. He included me as one of his subjects for his LCD Hack series, outlined below in the press release.
image courtesy of Jason Akira Somma
  Jason Akira Somma (b.1980, Virginia Beach) is celebrated as an artist whose practice is playfully idiosyncratic, empirical, and aleatoric. Described as “a visual art anomaly who has done some pretty revolutionary things in the space of performance and technology,” Somma’s work rigorously investigates how we experience, process, and participate in the cultural systems that surround us. While best known for his inventive contributions in the realms of choreography and performance, Somma’s practice is jointly rooted in his assay of holography, circuit bending, programming manipulation, and architectural intervention.
image courtesy of Jason Akira Somma
  The title of Somma’s debut solo museum exhibition “Because I Hate Technology.” is a clever re-contextualization of a statement the artist delivered during a press conference in 2011. When asked why he works with technology, Somma responded “...because I hate technology and I run towards what I’m afraid of.” Deceptive and humorous, the sentiment of the show’s title points to a principle of practice set forth by Somma. A self- proclaimed “hacker”, Somma’s artistic investigations draw from the initial conception of the term, which was intended to celebrate the democratizing spirit that drives one to challenge programmatic and proctological systems both technological and social. 
image courtesy of Jason Akira Somma image courtesy of Jason Akira Somma

  In the spirit of play and creative investigation the exhibition features the most diverse presentation of Somma’s work to-date. Never before exhibited the artist’s Work Made At Work series and polaroid manipulations showcase the depth of Somma’s medium inter- ventions. His LCD Hack series, most recently on view at Somma’s culminating exhibition for The Park Avenue Armory’s (New York, NY) Under Construction showcase in 2014, are a large focus of the exhibition. In addition to the breadth of static works “Because I Hate Technology.” also features three immersive interactive components: the second iteration of Somma’s Phosphene Variations, a user-directed “video impressionism” work featuring the movements of Bones the Machine, and the reveal of a new series entitled Repetition Compulsion.  

image courtesy of Loes Schakenbos image courtesy of Loes Schakenbos  
  'Phosphene Variations' is an interactive holography work that first debuted at Location One gallery (New York, NY) in 2012; an ongoing series through which Somma invites viewers to physically intervene and shape the narrative of the holographic film projection. The mystifying holographic display, the first of its kind used within a gallery context, encourages spectators to adopt the role of director in exploring the narrative and experiential potential of this phantasmagoric technology. 
   photo courtesy of Jason Akira Somma image courtesy of Jason Akira Somma
  'Repetition Compulsion' was first conceived during Somma’s residency at The Armory. Having discovered a simple feedback delay, created when the projected feed from an infrared security camera reprocesses the light it captures in real-time, Somma began a series of kinesthetic studies. While simple in its design, the resulting effect is absorbing and fantastic. Drawing from its psychoanalytic namesake, “repetition compulsion” refers to a behavioral phenomena in which a person situationally recreates or enters into an environment resulting in their re-experiencing of a traumatic event or circumstance. As the viewer confronts the uncanniness of their image within the infrared video-display there is an effort to alter, understand, and correct the distortion.  
-- Jason Akira Somma
October 31st, 2015 - January 17th, 2016
GEM Museum for Contemporary Art
Stadhouderslaan 43
2517 HV The Hague