CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE NEW MEDIA ART EVENTS NEW ZEALAND
Updated work by Japanese video art pioneer Ko Nakajima was exhibited in New Zealand this month as part of the Visual Art programme for the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival. “Video Life”, a joint exhibition with protégé Kentaro Taki, took place at the city’s ST PAUL St Gallery, and was accompanied by performances and artist talks.
“Video Life”, curated by New Zealand intermedia artist Phil Dadson and held at Auckland’s ST PAUL St Gallery (1-25 March 2011), consisted of five video installations by Ko Nakajima and four by Kentaro Taki spread between two gallery spaces.
The artists held a three-day workshop from 4 to 6 March 2011, in which participants investigated “the ways in which redundant and abandoned equipment can be combined with cutting edge video and mobile media … to explore … technological development and consumption in relation to our social and natural environment.”
During this time, Nakajima and Taki invited members of the public to a gallery performance of their work, with Nakajima combining video with live music and Butoh dancers and Taki using media images to examine the process of artwork creation.
Art Radar attended the artist talk, held at AUT University on 8 March 2011, and we highlight below some of the what the artists said.
Rivers of blood
In his public lecture, Nakajima spoke of his fascination with the art history of Asia, and with Taoist philosophy and its influence on Japanese culture. His work, he said, is inspired by five elements which are important in Taoist theory – trees, fire, earth/land, stone/gold/metal and water – as well as by nature in general.
Nakajima stated that he is particularly attracted to the “earth” element because it provides life to plants, which are themselves essential for human survival. Similarly, the artist sees “water” as representing blood. Just like blood, he explained, water runs through the capillaries of the world. Nakajima has created a number of different videos based on each of these Taoist elements and he plans to eventually link them together into one installation.
Europeans (or people from the West), Nakajima stated, do not pay much attention to nature, whereas New Zealanders perceive the natural world in much the same way as someone from Asia might. He also expressed a marked interest in the traditional Maori belief system.
Ko Nakajima (b. 1941) graduated from the Tama Art University in 1963 and started working with video in 1970, collaborating with corporations such as Sony and JVC to develop new video technologies. He was the first internationally commissioned artist to be invited by Television New Zealand (TVNZ) to create a computer graphic video work for their art and culture series, Kaleidoscope. In 1988, during an artist residency with TV2, he produced the video work RANGITOTO, which was broadcast in its entirety on New Zealand national television. During his artistic career, Nakajima has held a number of solo and group exhibitions in Asia, Europe and America.
Video almost life
Where Nakajima is seen as a pioneer, Kentaro Taki is representative of the new generation of Japanese video artists. Speaking on 2011 video installation Bild: Müll – in which images and sound taken from urban spaces, the city, the Internet and television are collaged together to create a three-dimensional new media sculpture – he discussed the challenges he had finding a suitable medium upon which to project. Deciding against a traditional flat screen, he experimented with projecting the separate videos onto cubes of various sizes from behind. (This method can be seen in the video below.) Taki later developed the piece by projecting onto e-waste instead of cubes.
The artist also highlighted Living in the Box (2010), an installation which discusses the increasing influence mass media and video has on the Japanese public. “Life is almost video, video is almost life,” he stated. With the use of new technology, Taki was able to produce images that closely imitate real objects and project these into boxes mounted to the gallery wall. He explained that the title of the piece, Living in the Box, holds both a literal meaning – Japanese people live in tiny apartments similar to boxes – as well an allegorical one – a representation of the mind-set of contemporary Japanese society.
Kentaro Taki (b. 1973) completed his Master of Fine Arts through the Department of Imaging Arts and Sciences at Musashino Art University in 1996. From 2002 to 2004, he was involved with the Overseas Study Program for Artists, run by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, and was then awarded a POLA Art Foundation overseas research programme grant, which Taki used to spend time at the HFG-Karlsruhe / ZKM in Germany. Aside from his video art work, Taki is currently the director of VIDEOART CENTER Tokyo, a lecturer in media art at the Kawaguchi Art School of Waseda University, and a writer on new media art.
The video below explores Kentaro Taki’s Living in the Box and, from 1m:10s onwards, you can view the installation in a gallery setting. Please note that the video commentary is in Japanese.
More Asian artists in Visual Arts programme
The Auckland Arts Festival’s Visual Arts section for 2011 included twenty contemporary art exhibitions, events and projects. Aside from Japanese new media practitioners Ko Nakajima and Kentaro Taki, artists where selected from New Zealand, Australia, South America, the UK, Cook Islands, Cuba and South Africa.
- Was Nam June Paik’s Tate Liverpool show information overload? Critics report – March 2011 – we’ve picked out a few of the best critic quotes
- Words in Art: New media artist Hung Keung’s war on Simplified Chinese – March 2011 – Hung finds a new way to present traditional material
- Video artists raise awareness about water conservation in China – January 2011 – international artists in Chinese exhibition about Chinese concerns
- Para/Site bring Indonesian moving image to Hong Kong – Record Waves exhibition – a rare Hong Kong showing of Southeast Asian new media art
- India’s Experimenter focusses on the “now” with Raqs and Kolkata location – an interview with Prateek Raja – Raja on seminal Indian new media group Raqs and the country’s experimental art scene