On April 29-30th, video artist and researcher Ali Hossaini collaborated with us to create a transatlantic performance with beatboxers in London and a choir in NYC. Our project transmitted music inspired by the themes of mortality and ageing filtered through a fire organ in London. We met with him to find out more about his work.

Fire Organ at Breakin’ Convention, Sadler’s Wells Theatre featuring Ali Hossaini and collaborators at London King’s College. Image by Richard Eaton.

“Death is a really important perspective that we often don’t reflect on. That’s the vantage point from which you comprehend your whole life.” – Ali Hossaini

Death, mortality, ageing – these themes brought together champion beatboxers Grace Savage and MC Zani, ageing specialist Dr. Teresa Niccoli, video artist Ali Hossaini and a New York City choir with a fire organ in London. This exciting, technological experiment involving sound, video, and fire, was hosted by Guerilla Science at the international hip hop dance theatre festival, Breakin’ Convention.

Ali’s Epiphany plays on the screen as musicians of all ages tinker with the Fire Organ. Image by Richard Eaton.

One of the components of this live streamed event was Ali Hossaini’s ever-evolving video art installation, Epiphany. Inspired by the death of his mother, Epiphany prompts its viewers to reflect on mortality and their own life force. It comprises a series of moving images accompanied by music composed by Ali’s long-time collaborator Paola Prestini.

Ali was not always a visual artist. He was first a biochemist, coming from a family deeply invested in the biomedical sciences. Motivated by his desire to have a deeper cognizance of human emotion and humanity, Ali shifted his pursuits to the studies of philosophy. It was only through his pursuit of a PhD in the Philosophy of Science, specifically of optics and visual media, that he learned about camera work and video editing. By studying these artistic practices, Ali uncovered a more extensive understanding of technology and how it structures our very existence. He also discovered a medium capable of manifesting the emotional and spiritual journey triggered by the death of his mother 20 years earlier. Epiphany fulfilled his desire to pay homage to his mother, all mothers, and what he describes as the “universal mother”.

The transition between science and art is smooth and continuous. Ali’s perception of this fluid relationship really resonates with us.

Learn more about Epiphany and the other projects of Ali Hossaini here.

Rewatch our Fire Organ collaboration by visiting us on Facebook.