Sunday, September 9, 2007

LIFE -fluid, invisible, inaudible...

LIFE - fluid, invisible, inaudible ..."is a collaboration between world-renowned composer/ musician SAKAMOTO Ryuichi and TAKATANI Shiro, core member of the Kyoto-based internationally active art group dumb type.

While the genesis of this piece is in SAKAMOTO Ryuichi's opera "LIFE" (first performed in 1999, for which TAKATANI Shiro the video aspects) as is evident in the title's "fluid, invisible, inaudible ..." it revisits the resources of sound and vision in "LIFE" now,several years later, in this new millenium, for an entirely new deconstruction and evolution of the work. If we say that "LIFE" was an experiment conducted in opera's linear, modern form at the end of the 20th Century, then the installation configuration of "LIFE--fluid, invisible, inaudible..." must surely be a non-linear, decentralized flow of audio and visuals which the visitors themselves enter to experience.

A grid of 3 x 3 acrylic aquariums, 30cm high and 1.2m square are hung, in a darkened room. Each carries a thin film of water inside. Each has speakers affixed at both ends. Inside of each a fog is artificially created using ultrasonic waves, percolating fluid patterns which hover between transparency and opacity. Imagery transmitted down into these tanks from projectors attached above them--at times synchronizing all aquariums, at times decoupled and seemingly autonomous--shines down through this screen of kinetic patterns woven of water and fog, connecting the imagery while ceaselessly melting, floating endlessly between flows of meaning and meaninglessness, the concrete and the abstract.
The sounds and visions in "LIFE--fluid, invisible, inaudible ..." including the newly added materials, are divided into categories of 20 and 30, and stored on a computer hard disk. Being run by a random control program, the audio and visual files are called up randomly from this depository, to create an installation which is constantly changing.

"I wanted to distance myself from the curse of time." (SAKAMOTO)
"I wanted the imagery to project completely free of control." (TAKATANI)

In both of their comments we can see their embrace of the emergent potential of the flowing phenomenon that is fog and the randomness of the computer to escape typically linear and conclusively established time and space.
*"LIFE--fluid, invisible, inaudible ..." was produced as a commissioned work at the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM), and exhibited from March 10 to May 28 2007 at YCAM to great critical and popular acclaim.

original text derived from NTT ICC communication center

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Perspectives offered by contemporaries

Museum of Glass Presents Mining Glass (June 16, 2007 - February 3, 2008)

The Museum, in its press release claims,"
Glass may have been disregarded by twentieth century art as decorative, but today it is not simply a major medium in its own right, it is also one that opens new visions for the artists who are approaching and mining it."

Another excerpt: "Mining Glass is the first major survey to examine how the rich and unparalleled material of glass has expanded beyond its traditional application in decorative and functional art in the early twenty-first century.The installations are organized around eight narratives that act as suggested passages to help viewers see beyond the technical matters associated with the medium.By moving through the themes of artifice, boundaries, desire, enchantment, excess, identity, intersections, and landscape, the exhibition concentrates on the deeper issues that concern artists, allowing the meaning of the work to take precedence over the technique of how it has been executed. The featured artists, none of whom are glass artists, thus present a stunning diversity of approaches to the material to reveal the multiplicity of glass--precious, magical, and mystical, yet common, practical, and functional--while challenging the notion that work in glass is merely pretty."

Question is: "Merely pretty" ??? Heyyyy, what's wrong with pretty?

Question 1: How does our standpoint (in terms of "mining") differ? Is our take but a variation on postmodernist multiculturalism and hybridism? Are we interesting in the fundamental redefinition of glass through artistic practice? Or is it something else?

Image credits:
Jean-Michel Othoniel (French, born 1964), Black Hearts, Red Tears (detail), 2006-2007,
Blown glass and glass beads,
108 x 132 x 4 inches (274 x 335 x 10 cm)
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris. Photo by Russell Johnson

Friday, August 3, 2007


Glass+New Media=? Brainstorm for a new word

What is glass?

The idea of in-between-ness is inseparable from glass. The material exists at a threshold chemically. It is an amorphous solid or a super-cooled liquid, the debate continues as to which. What is clear though, is that glass exists as a state somewhere in between a liquid and a solid. This means that despite having properties of both liquid and solid, glass is neither. It is too viscous to be a crystalline solid and too cohesive in molecule structure to be a liquid, just as I am too Indian to be Tamil and too regional to be a global citizen.

Glass is matter. It is light. Glass is immortal yet fragile. By virtue of being indetermined at multiple levels, glass lends itself to alchemical and phenomenological transformations. Through my experiments with glass, I realize that it embodies the defining quality of a threshold: it is a dialectic.

Threshold = (to) thresh + (to) hold, thres. hole, thresh. (W)hole.

Image source: