return to nē45

by Jaume Vidal

(...) Oscar Abril Ascaso uses sounds, or noises, as the peculiar tools of his artistic trade. The compositions he plays before the audience reproduce such familiar, everyday sounds as the squeaking noise you make when you open and close a window, or the short bangs produced by bursting the bubbles of air contained in the plastic wrappings used to protect fragile materials. "My work consists in giving an out-of-context presentation of everyday sounds. I consider that I don't have any real repertoire; what I can offer is a wide catalogue of sounds which I interpret on the stage", he explains. Oscar Abril Ascaso may for instance present himself before an audience and stand there, reproducing the sound of a rubber-stamp over and over again for almost one hour. His performances are intended to reverse the original meaning of a given action. In this case, the stampimg action is not to be understood as a certificate of ownership or authorship; quite the opposite, because what the performer actually means to vindicate is the non-authorship of the art work.

His catalogue of sounds includes a range of noises produced by diverse actions such as sending a telefax, tearing off the pages of a notebook, or dropping a bunch of keys to the ground. The artist, born in Barcelona in 1966, uses all those banal sounds to create the scenario of public performances that arouse highly peculiar reactions. (...)

Oscar Abril Ascaso's evolution has made him move away from the sphere of what is considered "music" and explore the realm of "free performance". "We live in an artistic world which is focused on objectification, and that is why I am so interested in this kind of performance and in the world of sounds. It has no material representation, which explains why it is at the bottom of the heap in the art world". Over the years, Oscar's work has become increasingly ethereal and difficult to classify.

Oscar Abril Ascaso has very clear ideas about what he wants to express and he uses them as the basis on which he later builds the conceptual structure of his work while creating what he defines as "the LTM (Low-Tech Music) machine". But that peculiar device does not take any given concrete shape. It is a combination of the artist's actions and the elements he uses to perform these actions. By means of that abstract - though real - machine, the artist creates a wide-ranging repertoire of interpretations. All the pieces listed in his catalogue are numbered and Low-Tech Music nē 20, for example, refers to a slot-machine "concerto". (...)

One of the factors that lend conceptual strength to Oscar Abril Ascaso's work is his determination to run counter to the accepted idea of authorship of the art work. The artist further points out that his own catalogue of sounds "is an impersonal frame of reference, so that anybody may interpret it. I intend to foster the dissolution of the concepts of author and work". (...)