Angelica Florio

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CHiKA is a prominent artist in New York’s earlier underground audiovisual scene: at the first stages of her career she was performing live with musicians to create video graphics to accompany music. Currently, ChiKA is the artist in resident at the School Of Visual Arts Visible Future Lab and the Mana Contemporary New Media Resident.

CHiKA now specializes in LED projection mapping. Her current exhibition, titled “EN,” combines LED Lights and acrylics to create complex geometric patterns and optical illusions. The exhibit is at 3RD ETHOS Gallery in Bushwick, which is running now until March 31.

CHiKA, who grew up in Japan, explains that her art often uses Japanese homophones as inspiration and for titles. “En” is a homophone, which is a word that sounds the same but that has three different meanings depending on the Japanese character. It’s either Circle (円), Connection (縁), or Feast (宴), which is fitting since the whole exhibit features varying designs inside circles that CHiKA laser cut.

CHiKA in her studio. Courtesy of CHiKA.

“I wanted to do something with Japanese because my heritage is Japanese,” she said. “It has hidden meaning.”

The artist’s past work was titled “SEI,” another homophone. It means star (星), silent(静), and live (生). Before that, CHiKA says, her art used the homophone “SHIiKAKU,” which means visual, (視覚), optical angle (視角), and blind spot (死角). While the current exhibition at 3RD ETHOS doesn’t include a video component like a lot of CHiKA’s work does, she showcases her intricate patterns through a mastery of light.

Like her attraction to homophones, CHiKA uses LED lights in her art installations due to what she describes as a primal appeal. “I really think light is in our DNA. When we were humans [we] started making fires. In the night you probably play with shadow puppets. ” she said. “Whenever people see beautiful light, people get excited. Sunshine excites you, right? Moonlight excites you. I want to create little things that make people excited.”

Connie Byun, the owner and founder of 3RD ETHOS, describes the process of planning CHiKA’s show as a natural progression of events. Byun had been a fan of CHiKA’s for a long time due to the artist’s collaborations with musicians. She was excited to get a chance to feature CHiKA’s work.

“We did a show last year for Bushwick Open Studios that was AR and VR, so this was just like a natural progression, a natural next step to do something that involved technology, something as legit as SVA,” Byun said.

3RD ETHOS Gallery and “EN.”

CHiKA said that setting up her exhibition in Bushwick went much more smoothly thanks to Byun’s expertise and the exhibit’s general simplicity. Usually, showing a fusion of art and technology in a show can be tricky. “You need to educate museum people, [keep] gallery people up to date. Technology changes all the time, and then longer [shows are] difficult because of maintenance,” CHiKA says.

The show at 3RD ETHOS which marks the end of CHiKA’s Visible Future Lab residency is going off without a hitch. Both the artist and Byun hope that the it can bring people together, whether people come from Manhattan or Bushwick. CHiKA describes art as a medium to connect with people and to create community through her work.

In the future, you will probably be able to find CHiKA doing all kinds of things, “It’s really funny; I just cannot do one thing, I have to do multiple things. That’s also circles, too. You start seeing the other positions, you see the other way.”

Cover photo courtesy of Tripl3 C.

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