About the Artist
Ohiso is an artist, writer and musician who gained popularity as an outspoken blogger and social media voice. He was the co-founder and editor of Green Door Magazine, an upstate New York publication that promoted green living. He received his Masters of Social Work degree in 2003 and worked for years in the social services profession. His invaluable experience working with vulnerable populations continues to inform his engagement in the digital world. A recent transplant to Seattle, his digital drawings document the unyielding gentrification and displacement of a city that creates great wealth and great suffering. He is married and lives in Ballard’s West Woodland neighborhood with his three children.
My most recent work has been in the digital realm using a drawing app and my iPhone. I take photos of locations and physical spaces I walk through on my deliberate wanderings around Seattle. My walks are planned serendipity; I never know what the environment will say and how I will interact.
Taking cues from Psychogeography and Situationist International, I am the medium in the process. In 1955, philosopher Guy Debord defined psychogeography as “the study of the precious laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”
I have always been interested in physical spaces. There is something molten in the process of experiencing an environment that intersects with history, memory and the present moment. I am often drawn to liminal spaces, the fracture in society.
As I began to walk around Seattle, the first thing I noticed were cranes and people experiencing homelessness. The cranes are constructing expensive condos and high rises on bulldozed plots that were once occupied with familiarity and memory. Many people are being displaced as a result of a booming real estate market.
Psychogeographical writer Iain Sinclair once said, “If the landscape changes, then I don’t know who I am either. The landscape is a refracted autobiography. As it disappears you lose your sense of self.”
Once I select a photo, I load it to the drawing app and layer my own tracing over the original photo. I make choices with color and line. I often create semi-realistic renderings. Once a work is complete, I remove the original photo to reveal my interpretation. The process is a translation, a disappearance of one for another.
Nick Papadimitriou, a writer, walker and self-proclaimed “deep topographer”, has a contrary philosophy:
“I think the broad distinction between psychogeography and deep topography is that psychogeography at heart is Christian. It is always dealing with the notion of fallen man in his dumpy landscapes whereas deep topography is essentially tantric, it sees a kind of joyful sexuality in all things, even sewage farms. In fact particularly sewage farms.”
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