Aki Onda

Photo by Masayuki Shioda

Aki Onda is a New York-based artist and composer. He is particularly known for his “Cassette Memories” — works compiled from a “sound diary” of field-recordings collected by using the cassette Walkman over a span of last three decades. He creates compositions, performances, and visual artworks from those sound memories. Onda often performs in interdisciplinary fields and collaborates with filmmakers, visual artists, and choreographers, including Ken Jacobs, Michael Snow, Raha Raissnia, Takashi Makino, Akio Suzuki, and Takao Kawaguchi. Onda’s work has been presented by numerous institutions internationally such as MoMA, MoMA PS1, The REDCAT, documenta 14, Pompidou Center, Louve Museum, Palais de Tokyo, Bozar, and many others.

Onda is also active as a curator and has organized major tours and exhibitions internationally, including events at The Kitchen, Images Festival, and Time-Based Art Festival. Onda is currently researching on Filipino composer José Maceda and will be re-staging selections of his compositions at TPAM – Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama 2019.

photo by Michela Di Savino

Cassette Memories in Sokołowsko 2018

For the last three decades, I have been using the cassette Walkman for making field recordings which I keep as a sound diary. I took the Walkman with me wherever I went. When I came upon a sound I liked, I’d click the record button on, carving the magnet of memory onto tape. Like a diary of sound. I consider these recordings to be personal memories, and not just sounds.

By documenting fragments of sound from my personal life, something is revealed in the accumulation. The meanings of the original events are stripped of their significance, exposing the essence of memory.

I realize “Cassette Memories” as a site-specific performance. I have found from past experience that my music is the strongest when I perform in a space which has its own memories – at a historic building, abandoned factory, old theatre, even a street corner. It’s a strange ritual. I am trying to both extract and abstract the essence of memory by playing my own field recordings, so to speak my personal memories, at a location that is saturated with its own memories. The result is invisible but one can feel live memories awaking sleeping memories.

For this occasion, I have selected multiple locations in Sokołowsko and will perform a series of rituals in situ. Sokołowsko is a small Polish village where several hundred inhabitants reside. It’s close to the Czech border, and was a part of Germany historically. It was known for the world’s first sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis, opened in the 19th century, although the large parts of the facilities are now decayed. Cassette Memories in Sokołowsko is an archaeological dig for the memory of the village.