1xRUN Thru Interview
Transmission by Ron Zakrin
1xRUN: What materials were used to create this painting?
Ron Zakrin: To make this piece I mainly used acrylic on wood panel. I also used chalk soaked in a clear acrylic emulsion. I was doing sketches in color chalk that looked awesome, but chalk is impermanent, and once you wet the chalk it disappears. So when I soaked the chalk in this emulsion I was delighted to see that it retained its brightness and was now permanent. You can’t get the same effect with paint that you get with chalk or pastels. Just look at the work of Degas, all of his most brilliant stuff was done with pastel.
I also built an awesome compass for drawing circles. It lets me draw concentric circles around the Dodge Fountain. I just love making my own tools and this tool was designed specifically for this painting and I’m really looking forward to using it in the future. If you need any circles drawn let me know, I’ll bring over the compass.
Ron Zakrin: I started painting the final piece around February, but I started the concepts around October playing around with some different ideas. The Movement guys had to be on board so I went through a lot of designs, and the final concept here was one of their favorites.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
Ron Zakrin: I did the sketch originally on tar paper and painted it out a bit, but the thing about it was that it was kind of a symmetrical design, which is a bit boring, you want to have things a bit off center. So I did a photo shoot after of all of the pieces, and the one that they picked was a photo from the right that warped the entire piece and forced the perspective off center, which made it a bit more interesting. So while original was all circles, at that angle everything turned into ellipses, so it was a bit more challenging, but overall the design really benefited from it.
Ron Zakrin: The actual painting itself took 2-3 months to finalize, but the concepts like I said were originally started last October.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece?
Ron Zakrin: Again, as far as technique goes, the chalk and acrylic emulsion combination is something I haven’t used until now. In terms of subject matter, I wanted a simplified human form,rather than a detailed approach where I usually will flesh out all the details of the faces and anatomy. In this case I wanted to keep a more mysterious faceless figure, so that the crowd is one entity rather than a group of individual faces. The only real details I added in terms of anatomy were the ears, since that is the most important part where music is concerned.
1xRun: Why should people buy this print?
Ron Zakrin: The obvious answer to that is if they are fans of the Movement Electronic Music Festival, it’s an awesome keepsake. But also, if there are any fans that really like my old work, this is definitely an echo of my older style that I don’t really do so much any more. Any fans of Detroit will notice the Dodge Fountain in Hart Plaza as the centerpiece as well.
1xRun: Describe the piece in one gut reaction word.
Ron Zakrin: Mysterious.1xRun: Let’s talk about your relationship with electronic music.
Ron Zakrin: My relationship started like a lot of people in Detroit, listening to The Electrifying Mojo and then The Wizard. When I started getting into it, it was just breakdance music, we didn’t call it electro, techno, or hip hop. I eventually grew out of it, but then started going to parties in 1994, and was blown away by the energy. When I found out that Jeff Mills was the same guy that rocked me as a kid as The Wizard, I nearly soiled myself.
So I was a musician, but I was doing lo-fi indie rock style stuff, then I went to a party in 1996 that was all live sets. I started tinkering with electronic toys, which was great fun, but hard to pull off live. Then slowly I learned that you have to sync all of that stuff and get real gear, something I didn’t really want to do. It was a huge learning curve, and I was a painter after all.
But I did it anyway, and once I had enough toys that I had modified to work with my sequencer I started performing in Detroit as Ghost 200. I was using these circuit bent toy laser guns and robots, it was very unique, and nobody else was doing it at the time. But eventually the toys broke, just because they were so fragile. So I went with real synthesizers and stuff, but I still circuit bend if time allows. Around 2003 I started my solo project Goudron and I was signed to Ersatz Audio (Adult.’s record label) which was a big deal for me. Later I moved onto Interdimensional Transmissions when Ersatz closed up shop, and I was equally pumped.
1xRun: How did you get set up with Movement?
Ron Zakrin: Jesse here at 1xRUN shot the idea over to the Paxahau guys at Movement and they have been doing releasing official prints each year with other artists. I think it was a perfect fit, Jason Huvaere at Paxahau came to my show last year, Still Life Drum Machine, and picked up a piece, so I knew that they were on the same page as me. So when Jesse floated the idea they were all about it.
I’ve wanted to contribute visually ever since the festival began in 2000, but I never approached anyone about it. Electronic music and the gear, for me, my painting and my music, form a symbiotic relationship. They are promoting the visual arts and electronic music, so for me it was a perfect fit.
1xRun: Have you went each year to the Electronic Music Festival in Detroit?
Ron Zakrin: The first year I had just come back from China and I lived out in Frazier — 14 mile and Groesbeck — and I rode my bike all the way downtown. It was a big deal. Nobody believed it was going to work, but they pulled it off. Of course the first one was special. I think Paxahau has done an amazing job with upping the ante each year. It’s an annual event, so I have friends come from out of town and stay at my place. There is always an act that I want to see. It’s a little bit crowded now, but that’s something you have to put up with. Everybody knows that along with the headliners and everything going on in Hart Plaza during the day, that there is a ton more action after midnight with all the after parties.
1xRun: Any favorite memories from that first year in 2000?
Ron Zakrin: The first year I saw Adult for the first time at the Underground Stage, and my band mate from Ze Dark Park, John Ryan, played before them and he had some technical problems so he had to pause and fix a cord, so Carl Craig played records while John figured out the technical problem. That, as far as I know, was the only time that Carl Craig played that opening year, so that was a nice little treat.