In the leadup to ArtPrize Nine, we're catching up with artists who've won grants to bring their work to the event this fall through the series, "5 Questions with...".

Today we're hearing from AJ Paschka, a Grand Rapids-based artist who won a Featured Pubilc Projects grant to bring his interactive laser installation, "STARFALL," to ArtPrize Nine. Read on to learn more about this project, what inspires him, and more.

1. Describe the project you’re making for ArtPrize. What will visitors see?

I am creating an interactive laser installation along the Grand River and interactive components at the JW Marriott. Visitors should be able to see the sculptural elements on top of building roofs during the day and see the riverfront light up at night. The lighting components will be able to respond to sound and are thematically tied together with an interstellar mythology.

2. How does this piece fit into your past work? Is this an extension of an existing body of work, or something new?

This is an extension of laser installation work that I have been doing since 2012. This particular work elevates the interactive component and scale of the installation. It combines my work in photography, radio, music, and technology into a new experience. What ties all of those activities together is my interest in wavelengths.

3. What’s your favorite artwork (by someone else) and why?

This a very hard question to answer. I very much like the late career paintings by Willem De Kooning. I am not a fan of work in which he made his career on, but these paintings were made when he was elderly and are distinctly different. They are lyrical and sensuous, and I feel I could be content to look at one for the rest of my life. To me, they feel like an oracle for imagination.

4. What inspires and informs your practice besides other art? What do you pay attention to? What do you research?

I am inspired by the imagination of kids. My son Logan is the primary inspiration for my ArtPrize piece this year.

I am a big fan of myths and legends and anything that celebrates magic realism. I am informed by other light artists, mostly in the music industry, and I pay attention to new technology in music production. What is also interesting to me is that the aesthetic of lasers and the visual vocabulary of entertainment, protest and weapons is very close.

5. What is your dream project?

I’d love to strap a bunch of lasers to a Gravitron and other carnival rides and let it rip. I’d love to shoot lasers through the Grand Canyon, light up icebergs, take over the mist of Niagara Falls, and take it to the remote places of the earth. In addition, I’m also interested in developing the Starfall Kittens into entertainment content for kids.

By Kevin Buist on