We are linguistic beings; as a result, even works of art cannot escape being besieged by conceptual frameworks. That said, for both the creator and the viewer, works of art can manifest their own inherent qualities only when they are experienced as the totality of life.
And as long as the goal is to have a totality-based experience, one needs to penetrate that framework and emerge on the other side, even if just a little. One of the requirements is that the art fits inside a cube of a certain size, and this conveys the thinking of each artist more clearly. That’s a unique thing about this project, but what became clear with the latest exhibition was the difficulty of breaking through the framework of the “concept.” Only Our Dog We don’t Know by Gakudai Kawasumi showed signs of, and entertained the hope of, overcoming that barrier, the barrier of “the language of explanation.” It expressed the hope that, going forward, we will be able to dimly perceive the territory that will unfold before us — the space-time continuum of eroticism — as we penetrate through to the other side…
Several air pumps suspended in midair inside the open cube make a hissing sound as they expand and contract slightly, pulling on connected wires and causing the strange jungle gym-like structure to gyrate. It’s exciting to imagine that this phantom robot, which moves in response to nerve signals that convey sensations (phantom pain) felt by a limb that the person has lost and no longer exists, might leave the cube and climb the mountains of Gifu. Delicate movements and memories of sensations have been released into this magnificent landscape. It’s so refreshing! I’ve never seen such an endearing, heartrending robot. A dance with four missing limbs. I’d like to try such a dance. I enjoyed seeing the entire AAIC 2020 exhibition. I’m so glad I came. The world is currently facing an unprecedented crisis. An emergency situation where victory is beyond reach. At last, now that this exhibition has managed to open with this creation on display, we who were on the verge of suffocation have been treated to a kindhearted, refreshing early summer picnic.
It is common for there to be a certain amount of separation between the concept and the actual work of art, and that realization has returned as I look at this event’s exhibits. However, in terms of material selection and method, it was Miyuki Takenaka whose originality commanded my attention. Utilizing as her material cinematic film, which is increasingly becoming a relic of the past, this work, which attempts to present traces of light and memories of sound, is well-suited to the theme of “Where Our Memories Go,” and I have recommended it for a Jury Prize. Additionally, the work by Takeshi Yasura, which I had overlooked at the concept review stage, made me shiver with excitement for the first time in a long while, amidst its crisp and refreshing space. Along similar lines, I would also like to mention the exhibit by Yasuaki Onishi as an example in which both the concept and the work of art are quite interesting.
The rest of the exhibits included works with poor execution or noticeable faults despite their interesting concepts. I should add that I was quite disappointed with them, considering how many of them were ambitious attempts.
(Various scheduling changes took place due to the coronavirus. Although I was concerned about the impact of these scheduling changes on the individual artists, I don’t think there was any particular impact on the judging itself. Individual comments and impressions are as follows.)
Stone Axe by Ms. Yamamoto and Ms. Himeno. I was surprised that such flexible expression was possible using typical sculpting materials (stone and wood). It also has a nice vibe that one person couldn’t have thought of alone. Another nice thing about it is that it expresses lightness through the work’s attitude rather than its form. (The actual work is heavy, yet it appears light.)
Mr. Kawasumi. This installation looks like a painting no matter what angle it is viewed from. I felt that he had both the perspective and audacity to take an overhead view, including the fact that it summarized the motif of “the dog I used to have”.
Mr. Morimoto. There is a feeling of tension, as if you are timidly peeling back the membrane of the artist’s brain while looking at it, like a bomb thrown into the art from outside. It is difficult to comment, but because this one was the most perplexing, I selected it for a Jury Prize.
There were many other works worth mentioning, and the exhibition itself was substantial. I judged them on the standard of how much the imagination of a viewer who has seen the work expands beyond its defined space.
The artists each create their own microcosm within the rectangular parallelepiped space given to them. The theme this year is “Where Our Memories Go.”
What is memory? Biologically, we know that there is no physical basis for memory. In other words, there are no tiny videotapes stored deep inside the brain. Rather, a memory is something created anew each time we remember it — a one-time ephemeral electrical phenomenon.
That’s why I, as a biologist, decided to judge these works according to how interesting I feel they are when conceived of as things that express memory that is constantly in motion, dynamic and unstable, unbalanced — like something aptly described by Kenji Miyazawa as “one postulated, organic alternating-current-lamp blue illumination.” At the same time, memory is also something that enables human life, which eventually and inevitably ends in death. “Memory is a partial victory over death.” These are words that Kazuo Ishiguro taught me.
Judging modern art is hit-and-miss, but it is worthwhile if even a single work leaves an impression. At this exhibition, I liked Stone axe sculpture with stone axe motif, The Law of Conservation of Mass, and Ditch of Time.
We now know that sticks and stones were used as tools even at the monkey stage, but stone axes made by combining sticks and stones together first appeared at the human stage, and humans waving stone axes paved the way for future humanity.
I never imagined that stone axes could, as a theme, be capable of such rich variety and powerful expression. The essential human nature of making and expressing things is hidden in the combination of these three things: humans, trees (sticks), and stone. This work made me aware of that, so I thought it deserved the Grand Prize.
When I sat down on the bench and viewed The Law of Conservation of Mass, I felt like I was returning to my childhood, and I didn’t get tired of it, so I selected it for a Jury Prize.
When I arrived at the museum after living under self-isolation, the cubes invited me in like they were a house of acquaintances, and it felt like a reunion. As I entered And “The children of the universe” shall confront the “Slightly drunk AI” that they created, faint electronic sounds and written-down words sublimated the countless spirits on an altar (?), indicating tomorrow’s direction. In individual prize-winner Repeat, a girl in front spoke to me, and the artist herself (?) reflected in the mirror at the back became more in tune with the audience as the level of intimacy increased structurally. Their actions toward the images mirrored to the left and right were also dynamic, and the memories residing in the body were charmingly relayed by the dancers, creating a space that was difficult to leave. When I reached Our Dog We don’t Know, which revealed a development that differed from the plan, the “house” had disappeared, and in its place appeared a “landscape” with a very nice view. The artist’s ability to make this conceptual leap was quite refreshing. The day I spent there nearly had me believing in primitive energy. I returned home feeling enriched with the numerous memories that I had received and ruminated upon with my cells.