Kenneth Dow

ofoStep

sound sculpture Ofo bicycle lock, microcontroller part of PSYCHOTRANCE sculpture series Shanghai, Hamburg, Barcelona, 2019 in collaboration with Hangar.org and beep NewArt Foundation

OfoStep is a reappropriated sound sculpture that functions as a 16 step sequencer.

A sequencer is an instrument that allows players to program short loops of sound composed of steps. It is typical to see in drum and bass machines to create complicated and rich rhythms in electronic music.

OfoStep features four instruments to sequence with. It is limited compared to formal electronic equipment. Dow mentions that building these instruments from scratch, rather than investing capital in marketed products, nurtures club and rave spaces. DIY instruments cradle radical and revolutionary practices.

Dow uses the Ofo bike lock to locate the site of club and rave culture reappropriating capitalist architecture by juxtaposing it with the boom and crash of the Beijing-based start up, Ofo.

Ofo was different from other bike sharing platforms because it was extremely cheap and allowed riders to park wherever they wanted, compared to other platforms that tend to have assigned docking stations. They manufactured a staggering number of bikes to corner the market. People began leaving the bikes in piles so large, they blocked off walkways.

Ofo competitors matched their bike manufacturing patterns, resulting in a subsequent crash after the boom. Many of the Ofo bikes lay in graveyards around China, brand new and perfectly useful, but no longer profitable.

Taking an Ofo bike lock, a failed product built from new materials, Dow claims to digest what already exists, reappropriate it, and assign its use rather than creating something new and with a singular purpose.

Where the sculpture would be isolated on a pedestal and standing against a white wall in a museum or gallery, OfoStep works as a binding agent between people in clubs and raves. it allows them to interact and collaborate to create the ambiance the space asks for.

OfoStep conveys the necessity of the body and interaction in artmaking spaces. It is not a sculpture that can simply be looked at and thought of. OfoStep needs a body to listen, push its buttons, and create music.

Dow explains the relevance of creating interactive pieces. “Labor atrophies the body where raves and clubs activate them.” Conversely, they went on to describe how museums and galleries recreate workforces, where clubs and raves destroy them.

Reflecting on the intimately bound politics of the body and gender, Dow reflects on the foreshadowing of their transgender experience and identity, which like OfoStep, requires active participation, presence, and reappropriation to succeed.

Ars Electronica 2019

Commissioned by Beep Newartfoundation and Hangar.org

Part of a sculpture group exploring the prerevolutionary potential of raves.

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