Aly Ogasian + Claudia O’Steen

Combining photography, video, installation, and performance, Ogasian and O’Steen cast themselves in the role of explorer or knowledge seeker and traverse a series of scenarios that are at once deeply absurd and poetic. Through a robust research practice they develop systems that fuse historic, contemporary and imagined versions of marine navigation, nautical surveying, astronomy, geology and cartography. Their projects often include fieldwork in remote or unusual locations such as restricted aerospace facilities and extreme landscapes. Their work exists, ultimately, as an archive of a voyage or journey, as evidence or detritus of a larger performance.

They have been awarded collaborative residencies at Rabbit Island, Hambidge Center for the Arts & Sciences, Rural Projects, The Wassaic Project, Montalvo Arts Center, The Arctic Circle, and NCCA Saint-Petersburg, and have exhibited both nationally and internationally at venues such as The Russian State Arctic and Antarctic Museum, apexart, Flux Factory, Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Ohio State University amongst others.

Aly received a BFA from Queen’s University and a MFA in Digital+Media at Rhode Island School of Design. She is based in Los Angeles, California and is an Assistant Professor of Art at Scripps College.

Claudia received a BFA from Watkins College of Art & Design and an MFA in Digital+Media at Rhode Island School of Design. She currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina and is a Professor of Fine Arts at Winthrop University.

alysonogasian.com | claudiaosteen.com

FIELDWORK Q&A – January 2022

How is fieldwork part of your practice?
Our projects always involve fieldwork, and installations incorporate artifacts and ‘data’ collected from the landscape itself, and are inspired by our immediate surroundings. Our work focuses on their relationship with the changing environment, and uses methodologies borrowed from citizen science to critique traditional notions of exploration and conquest.

We attempt to re-orient ourselves in a contemporary world dominated by data and technology, where the romantic and adventurous spirit of discovery has been lost or forgotten. We are interested in the moments where science and technology give rise to the nebulous, the enigmatic, the mysterious – where the primary goal is to ‘make sense’ rather than to objectively know.

How would you describe your fieldwork activity?
Technology is inherently part of the process of exploring, allowing us to extend our bodies, senses, and thoughts across great distances whether deep within or far away. Within this context, wonder connects to an instance of ‘new knowing’, a re-encountering of familiar terrain.

Our work is performative, casting the artists in the role of knowledge seeker within scenarios that are at once deeply absurd and poetic. The glitches or errors that occur within the process are celebrated not only as deviations from the intended path, but as potential points of departure for the imagination. Through a repetitive and obsessive methodology we reveal patterns and flaws, and develop languages to convey distance, scale, and direction.

Through a robust research practice we develop systems that fuse historic, contemporary, and imagined versions of marine navigation, surveying, astronomy, geology, and cartography. We use sculpture as a tool for observation and perception, creating instruments and devices to interrogate the landscape around us.

How are you currently sharing your fieldwork?
Through exhibitions, site-specific installations, and lectures. We produce artifacts that reveal evidence of performance and exploit unexpected moments to enrich each narrative. Presenting these artifacts and impressions in raw form, we create a visual language that fosters a sensory experience referencing geographic points of origin. These fragmented encounters act as navigational aids, layering digital media onto unexpected surfaces that act as physical stand-ins for the landscape.

Keweenaw Observing Station