MixTate TYGAPAW on Wolfgang Tillmans

The artist, producer and DJ responds to turbulent times in their new sound composition inspired by Wolfgang Tillmans’s photograph of the Atlantic Ocean

I make electronic music, specifically techno. In a field dominated by cisgender white men, this, in itself, defies stereotypes. I was born and raised in Jamaica, a country located below Cuba, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Resistance is in my blood. Resilience is in my bones. Techno, naturally, found me.

There is something deeply compelling about Wolfgang Tillmans’s photograph The State We’re In, A 2015, which I saw at Tate Britain during my recent European tour. The scale alone overwhelms you instantly – the work stands at around nine feet tall and 13 feet wide. But it is the image that completely bewitches you and pulls you in. The waves are agitated and restless. The angry ripples threaten to envelop and devour you if you dare to venture closer. There is nothing on the horizon, just the dark abyss of an ocean, disrupted. At times, the scale creates an optical illusion – as if you are seeing movement in the waves – with an almost holographic effect.

This print, pinned to the gallery wall, resonates deeply with my current mood: very unsettled, as the world seems to be showing me that there is absolutely no hope for humanity. We’ve allowed hate and violence to prevail over love and care. The pursuit of power is the catalyst for multitudes of catastrophic events. On tiny handheld screens, we witness what one former UN official described as a genocide in 2023. As you turn your screen off, is it back to business as usual? Much is lost, much seems hopeless, many feel helpless.

My composition, made in reference to The State We’re In, A, is a sonic demonstration of the complete division and dissociative state of our modern society. The sounds mirror the intense and unsettling nature of the times we’re living through. It’s relentless and escalates with every throbbing beat. Much like the state we’re in.

Wolfgang Tillmans’s The State We’re In, A is included in the five-century display of British art at Tate Britain.

TYGAPAW is a DJ, producer and artist based in Brooklyn.

This mixtape is no.16 in the MixTate series.