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Kioto Aoki (青木希音) is a Chicago-based artist, educator and musician, whose studio practice navigates various mechanisms and propositions of spatial and visual acuity. Grounded in the analogue image and image-making process and through tangential vernaculars of conceptual photography and experimental cinema, she forms a rhetoric of nuanced quietude responding to and formed by observations and experiences of the everyday. Often in her work, the body activates, holds, and navigates the propositions of sight and relativity, through notions of structural tangibility and material specificity.

Aoki's music practice is informed by the Japanese aesthetics of ma and emphasizes the melodic phrasing of spatial sustain and choreography to challenge common perceptions of percussion as mere rhythm. Her stoic, durational explorations involve performative soundscapes that oscillate between the organic textures of live performance and nuances of cyclical sonic sustain. ​

Aoki is the 5th generation of the Toyoakimoto house, an okiya (geisha house) performing arts family from Tokyo with roots dating back to the Edo period. Studying under father, Tatsu Aoki (Toyoaki Sanjuro), she continues this particular family lineage as Toyoaki Chitose (豊秋千東勢) on shamisen. Working within traditional and experimental contexts, Aoki maintains a balance of retaining the artistic and aesthetic integrity of traditional Japanese music with a contemporary sensibility that extends beyond the measures of cultural preservation. 

Aoki’s work is held in the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Library and private collections. Musical projects include solo albums released by Asian Improv Records and FPE Records, Yoko Ono’s SKYLANDING, Tatsu Aoki’s The MIYUMI Project, Experimental Sound Studio’s Sonic Pavilion Festival, and the Soundtrack series at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She has performed and exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Asian Art Museum (San Francisco), the Chicago Cultural Center, 6018|North (Chicago), Gallery Kobo Chika (Tokyo, Japan), The Lab (San Francisco), and the Barbican Centre (London), among others. Aoki also leadsTsukasa Taiko, a program of Asian Improv aRts Midwest (AIRMW); and is program curator at AIRMW.

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