• Breathe, Fibres of Papers Past

    Solo exhibition at the International Museum of Surgical Science | *exhibition guide*
    March 12 - June 13, 2021

    The International Museum of Surgical Science is housed in a four-story landmarked Chicago mansion built in 1917 for socialite and philanthropist Eleanor Robinson Countiss as a family home. The design for the mansion was inspired by the Le Petit Trianon chateau on the grounds of Versailles completed in 1770, which Eleanor had visited during her travels to Europe. The fortune to fund the construction of the home was provided by her father, John Kelly Robinson, an executive at The Diamond Match Company. The Diamond Match Company was founded by Eleanor’s grandfather George Barber in Ohio and became the largest match manufacturer in the late 19th century.

    The mansion was later acquired from the family in the early 1950s by the International College of Surgeons (ICS) founded in 1935 by surgeon Dr. Max Thorek and headquartered next door. The goal of the ICS was to promote a global exchange of surgical knowledge. Initially conceived as the ICS Hall of Fame, the museum eventually expanded to become a repository for its growing collection of historically significant surgical instrumentation, artworks and manuscripts from surgeons, collectors and institutions.

    Together with Dr. Solomon Greenspahn, Dr. Thorek founded the American Hospital primarily to support low-income patients in 1917 – the same year the Countiss Mansion was completed. His professional endeavors are chronicled in his autobiography, A Surgeon’s World. Dr. Thorek was also an accomplished photographer, participating in photography salons worldwide. He published two photography books, Creative Camera Art (1937) and Camera Art as a Means of Self-Expression (1947), detailing the technical aspects of the paper negative process and aesthetic concerns of the Pictorialist photographer.

    Breathe, Fibres of Papers Past begins with an homage to these two historical narratives and continues throughout the four floors of the museum. The exhibition responds to these intertwined histories by engaging objects from the museum’s permanent collection, which include original blueprints of the mansion and a variety of medicinal and photographic material. By pulling together varied physical and textual sources, Aoki reveals the layered architectural, historical, and haptic relationships that compose a place.

    Diamond Tin Series - photographs of Countiss Mansion created with artist-made Diamond Tin pinhole camera. gelatin silver prints

    Anatomy Of - sectional cyanotypes created from original 1916 architectural drawings of the Countiss Mansion

    Appears to Be - series of sequential images where exposure is determined by the number of breaths taken, ascending from one to twelve. Frames created by former respiratory therapist Steve Ducklow. gelatin silver prints

    photograms on x-ray film
    digital projection 16mm film

    Sightline Siteline - Panorama photographed from mansion rooftop with Henry Clay Camera, belonging to IMSS permanent collection. gelatin silver prints

    Signature Bun - photograms of artist hair hung at artist bun height. Gelatin silver prints & artist hair.

  • frame, remnants, inflections

    In Flux: Chicago Artists and Immigration is a continuation of the Living Architecture project presented by 6018|North. The exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center responds to the current political climate to highlight how Chicago was built with immigrant labor, particularly in the arts.

    First opened to the public as the Reference Room in 1897, the Exhibit Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center featured windows along two sections of the east and west walls. The windows on the west wall have since been bricked in and their remaining silhouettes become latent images of the past. The photographs acknowledge the history of the exhibition space, documenting the interior and exterior views of these gallery walls and calling attention to what once was. The images also recall various meanings of the frame, as a space that can define or defy the conceptual, physical, architectural, historical, geographical and photographic borders: a place of mobility.

    frame, remnants, inflections (2020)
    20x24 inches
    gelatin silver prints
  • Hairpin Mfg. Co.

    Photograms using namesake "Hump Hair Pin" patented in 1903 & "No.900 Liberty Belle Hair Pins " designs from the early 20th century Chicago-based Hump Hairpin Mfg. Co. Exhibited at The Hairpin Arts Center – former offices of the Hump Hairpin Mfg. Co. through 1947 built by founder Solomon H. Goldberg for 思考回路•Shikoukairo II: Patterns of Thought.

    No. 900 (2020)
    12x36 inches | unique edition of 3 [entire box used between three prints]
    gelatin silver prints

    Hump Hair Pin No. 3 (2020)
    5x7 inches | unique edition of 30
    gelatin silver prints

  • あずりピン•ホール // pin•whole

    Pinhole series photographed in the Tokachi Region of Hokkaido, Japan. Focusing on local community members, pinhole cameras were made from materials and objects available in the subjects' workspace and photographed with on-site.

    In the Hokkaido dialect the word azuru / あずる implies the notion of a struggle. The title alludes to the improvisational nature of resourcefully crafting cameras that did not always yield the desired result; as well as the creation of itinerant darkrooms that were a vital part of the project experience.

    Sponsored in part by Asian Improv aRts Midwest and the Tokachi International Cultural Exchange Center as part of the Chicago Obihiro Exchange Project, initiated to cultivate international dialogue between contemporary artists from Japan and Chicago.

    gelatin silver prints
  • Stay this way, facing the light

    Two-person exhibition with Daniel Hojnacki at Apparatus Projects

    "Daniel Hojnacki and Kioto Aoki seek to complicate photography’s often explicit relationships to memory, loss, visual legibility and light. Hojnacki and Aoki’s work engages deeply with photographic history and materiality in order to challenge assumptions about the finitude or descriptive quality of an image as a window into some other place or some other time. complicates photography’s often explicit relationships to memory, loss, visual legibility and light. Hojnacki and Aoki have developed a set of images that seeks to reintegrate a critical intimacy into the way we view a photograph: hands grasping at nothing, a flower that only blooms at night, negatives propped against a nightlight, and photographs of loved ones since gone. These images set the scene for a conversation about photography’s role in shaping our memories, desires and contradictions by translating a picture not only through our eyes, but through a gentle choreography interweaving surface, body, and light."

    gelatin silver prints, night light, lumen prints

    images courtesy of Daniel Hojnacki
  • Acuities

    Series for which the photographic methodology is governed by the inherent mechanism of the 4x5 field camera. During the actual moment of image-taking, film is placed between the lens and the ground glass, obstructing the view of the compositional frame. Using my hands to activate the landscape at this particular moment of limited visibility, the result is a series of aleatory compositions. The notion of visual acuity is redefined through the conceptual framework of hand-eye coordination.

    gelatin silver prints
    2019 ongoing
  • Shibori // 絞り

    Fabric cyanotypes playing with dual meanings of the word shibori.

    Shibori or 絞り染め is one of the oldest Japanese indigo dye processes dating back to the 8th century, and involves folding or squeezing the fabric to create patterns. The name comes from the Japanese word shiboru, meaning to wring. In Japanese, shibori is also the word used for camera aperture. The cyanotype images are made by grasping the fabric in the manner of the shibori technique, showing the gradual enlargement of the hand aperture.

    Cyanotype on organic Japanese cotton
  • move fast, evaporate

    gelatin silver prints
    5.5 x 14 inches