The Acid Sweat Lodge is a collective started by Kevin Romaniuk and Liam Hogan back in 2006 to observe and address alternative lifestyles. They research these ideas with blog posts, filmstrips, playlists, exhibits, training materials, and organized gatherings. Five years in, they have gathered many loyal followers. Caine Heintzman converses with ASL about cold beers, loose women and playing strip poker.
How did the name Acid Sweat Lodge come to be? Pretty much the names all individually said, rule on their own. Acid. Sweat. And Lodge.
The name Acid Sweat Lodge is reflective of the ideals of an alternative lifestyle. It is the product of drunken conversations, late night parties, trips to the woods, high times, and long journeys down the highway. The name and logo were devised as a way to communicate simply and effectively to others who define their own set of moral, cultural and ethical standards.
When you started Acid Sweat Lodge what goals or purposes did you want to achieve with the company? When was it started?
Around 2006 we began preliminary work on the Acid Sweat Lodge. Initially it began as a sort of renegade “think tank” for developing projects and conducting research into several topics and subcultures which interested us. Projects were proposed, research conducted and the findings were put before a motley crew of associates for discussion. Very quickly the work began to attract broader attention and before long a charter and mandate were developed. Originally the goal was to further our own interests and provoke discussion among our immediate network; now we strive to spread our acquired knowledge to the masses of like minded individuals around the world. The Acid Sweat Lodge draws thousands of followers from all corners of the globe who follow our research and implement it in their day-to-day lives.
Where do you mainly get your inspirations from…One can assume bikers, cold beers and loose women?
Much of our inspiration is based on past experiences, so a lot of it comes from people, places and things we know. Bikers and beer are among the topics, but we also have great respect for anyone with the dedication, commitment and vision to do things their way. These ideals are what originally inspired us and continue to inspire us to move forward.
Where do you find most of your old imagery? What about these images inspire you?
We meet weekly and discuss various projects and then set out to do the research. We usually know what we are looking for; it’s just a matter of finding it somewhere. Imagery comes from all over. It just depends on the research topic. Old books, magazines, pamphlets, friends, other blogs. Supporters often send us other materials. Other than contributing to our visual research archive, the images that we post attempt to speak to a larger idea or philosophy about a way to live. The purpose of much of our work is to shed light onto alternative lifestyles and provide others with some inspiration on carving their own path in life. We don’t tell you how to live, we just provide the knowledge and tools to prepare you on your journey.
Do you live the lives that you document?
You have to practice what you preach. Live the life you love, love the life you live.
Acid Sweat Lodge is made up by two guys. Did either of you ever go to art school?
The founding members have various levels of education and expertise. This includes stints in art school and film school respectively. We also have long histories in the skateboard and music scenes, the design and multimedia industry, wilderness living and biker culture. All of these aspects are just as important as our formal education, and are the cornerstones of what we are trying to communicate. The Acid Sweat Lodge is not meant to be an elitist art project but instead a document of a life philosophy. Freedom, Brotherhood, Individualism.
The Acid Sweat Lodge also has a group of associates and cultural nomads that span the spectrum of life experiences and includes, craftsmen, tradesmen, bikers, survivalists, musicians, dopeheads, journalists, designers, artists, and weirdos among others. These individuals are called upon to help with research and special projects and to help promote the A.S.L. philosophy.
Music plays a big factor in your work. Can you tell us a bit about this?
Music is therapy.
Can you tell us about the you tube videos that you post. Why did you pick this particular outlet to channel your work?
Review and analysis of any research is critical. We publish our findings whenever we can and in various formats. At times there are many projects and concepts on the go and we found this format helpful in quickly recalling older ideas. Since most of our research findings are images it seemed like a logical step to progress to video and projections. In addition, online communities are a convenient way to connect with and spread the work of the ASL to any interested parties.
How often do you guys come out with zines?
Quarterly, monthly, weekly. It varies. Sometimes research is dominant and other times we are working on several projects at once. Our reports and other materials are usually published once we have finished or accumulated substantial research into a topic. There is no specific schedule to our work, but rather a dedication to completion and understanding of a topic. Once we feel enough material has been collected, findings are published and distributed to our associates throughout the world.
You have done collaborations with a several artists, including Surface 2 Air. What did you end up doing with them? How did this union come to be?
Surface 2 Air contacted us with the idea of producing a project for the opening of their flagship boutique in Paris. They had been fans of A.S.L. and followed our research and felt it fit in well with their current aesthetic. After discussions with their design team, we decided on creating several image based slideshows which were presented at the boutique. The slideshows consisted of us curating hundreds of images based on several of our research themes (control the animals, hideouts, wilderness, custom machines, etc) into small digitally projected presentations. Results of the project can be seen on our website.
Have you guys ever gotten any funny fan mail?
We are always glad to hear from others who believe in the A.S.L. philosophy and encourage anyone to get in touch with us as we are always open to new projects, collaborations, and the free exchange of ideas. We have received a lot of mail from supporters over the years. Support comes from all corners of the community. We have received messages from fellow artists, teenage wasteiods, fashion houses, isolationists, University researchers and design agencies. The brotherhood is strong. Often we get messages thanking us for posting certain images and materials and shedding light onto techniques and ideas that don’t often get much exposure. Many people express their frustration that our ideas are not more broadly embraced. One of our favorite comments on the blog was from an individual who was really pissed that most people are lacking basic knot tying and survivalist fundamentals, and that those with out them, should “learn or burn.” Agreed.
If you could work with any artist who would it be?
We have tremendous respect for many artists and designers. We also have a great deal of respect for craftsmen and elders within certain fields of study. In the future we hope to be able to collaborate with a large and varied group of individuals. We have envisioned projects for everyone from old desert survivalists to designer fashion houses.
Any new projects in the works?
Along with the continuation of our various research and publishing projects, we are currently working on a film project which will continue to expand the Acid Sweat Lodge philosophy.We are also coordinating a series of organized gathering to distribute our materials and further expand the movement.
If you could play strip poker with anyone dead or alive, who would it be with and why?
Difficult question. Shit happens when you party naked.