Interview: Hugo Esquinca


Hugo Esquinca is a Berlin-based sound researcher from Mexico. His work investigates the diverse spatio-temporal relations deriving from transductive interactions between technology and the sonorous, expanding within and beyond audibility. His work has been presented in diverse contexts and venues such as Mira Contemporary Art Museum Siberia, Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Loop Festival Berlin, NII Science and Arts Moscow, CMMAS Center For Music and the Sonic Arts Mexico andForum Stadtpark Graz among others.

As a founding member of the Berlin-based oqko collective under the alias DEKJ, Esquinca makes and performs noise music that is visceral and confrontational, preferably delivered in pitch black environment, speakers screeching their conic guts out. Berlin’s CTM Festival took notice and this year Esquinca will be performing at Berghain alongside Okkyung Lee, Marcus Schmickler and more for the Unease part of the festival’s programme.

Ahead of the night, we caught with him to talk about his upcoming performance and his work with oqko.

Hi Hugo, thank you for speaking to us. Could you tell us a bit about your background and what you are currently doing in Berlin?

My work relates to the “why and how” of the audible and the sonorous, meaning the relation to what we hear/listen and what happens independently of that activity, this in absolute relation to technology and the notions of manipulation, intensity and interaction with the environment as constant modifiers and shapers of aurality.

Your performance at Berghain references disorder and deconstruction. What is your aim with this performance and what can we expect? You’ll be delivering your performance as a 6.1, which should be interesting on such a system…

“Study on (in) operable rigour”, which is what I will be presenting at Berghain is a site-specific performance deriving from the convergence of defined qualities within space, each loudspeaker of the sound system and the different temporalities between digital-analog “real time” events, all of these taken as the rigurosity from which our audibility generally operates, yet most of these variables also provide the opposite, meaning that a controlled environment in which listening happens can be as bendable and transgressive as the apparent rules that conform it.

So basically the performance runs on a series of generative algorithmic instances that provide a disrupting scenario in which all those qualities have been measured and work as the basic variables of audible “dysfunctionality”, so in this sense every part of this system is fundamental to the event.

How does your performance relate to this year’s theme, which is Turmoil?

I think the performance and my current research relates a lot to the sense of uncertainty and dis-orientation that go under the umbrella of the Turmoil, and not precisely in a dystopian fashion, but rather that I consider nowadays confusion should aim at the structures we have been accepting as almost axiomatic, mainly in our way of thinking and dealing with what we consider valid, moral, ethical, physical, knowledge, experience and over all “human”.

Are there any other particular acts you are intent on catching?

Regarding other performances, In a general sense I am up for listening and experiencing as much as possible during the festival, discovering and encountering unexpected acts, yet really interested in Okkyung Lee and Equiknoxx.

You’ve told me before how crowds in Russia would actively dance to your music when the audience reaction to noise concerts in Berlin or in the West in general tend to be more passive. Why do you think there is such a difference in attitude when it comes to receptivity to these type of performances? Is there a reaction you’d rather?

Well I could say that on an overall sense I noticed since then that rather than preferring one above the other those situations have provided me with a new point to interact or think about how experience and the ideas related to those experiences should remain plural, meaning that going or attending an event shouldn’t be defined at all by the individual that is behind a computer, but rather modulated by all the irreducible differences that are part of a moment.

How is your label oqko doing and what is coming up this year?

For this first semester we are releasing -N second EP “Suggestions”, HMOT’s “Permanent Imbalance”, Lukas Grundmann “Time-Stretched Acid” and astvaldur’s collaborative project with Larka PANG.

And what are your upcoming projects for 2018?

There is some writing that I really want to finish as soon as possible with philosopher Yuk Hui which derives from a series of conversations that we had last year and will have next month which has been streamed by Cashmere Radio.

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