Mamoru Okumo’s sound art in Hong Kong: Everyday objects become musical instruments

Japanese sound artist Mamoru Okuno transforms everyday objects and practice into musical instruments, introducing Hong Kong audiences to an art experience that blurs the line between viewing and listening.

A sound art exhibition titled “etude for everyday life” by Japanese sound artist Mamoru Okuno is on at 2P Contemporary Art Gallery from 4 August to 24 August 2012. Art Radar pricks its ears up in anticipation.

Mamoru Okuno, 'etude no.11 variation with 2 fans and 200 tin hangers, 2011, in "etude in everyday life" at 2P Contemporary Art Gallery, Hong Kong.

The show, through the transformation of various domestic objects and practices that are familiar in our daily lives, is reconstructed and arranged as musical instruments in an installation space. Visitors are invited to listen to the music and walk in between the instrument installation, appreciating its mechanisms.

Mamoru uses common objects such as plastic straws, food wrap, ice, steel hangers, instant noodles, electric kettles and microwaves to create his instruments, highlighting each object’s everyday function. The visible mechanics behind the production of the sounds serves as a visual cue to aid heightened listening, presenting opportunities for the viewer-cum-listener to rediscover the fullness and wholeness of the sounds.

Mamoru Okuno, 'etude no.36 water and dry earth 1', 2011, in "etude in everyday life" at 2P Contemporary Art Gallery, Hong Kong.

Mamoru further explains his ideas,

It’s not for playing instruments, but for those things that are not so special or regarded as ordinary and even worthless. I’d like to frame them differently, so that people can also see what they can be, not just what they are produced to be. And when you get it, you’d probably do it over and over again just like practicing a song. Then you’d get good at it. Something would change. Maybe not so drastic, but something profound, I hope.

Mamoru Okuno, 'etude no.11 variation with 2 fans and 200 tin hangers’, 2011, in "etude in everyday life" at 2P Contemporary Art Gallery, Hong Kong.

Alicia Yau, Curatorial Assistant of 2P Contemporary, explains the difficulties inherent in putting together a sound art exhibition like this one,

The challenge was to inform people how to engage; the first part [being] engaging with the work, and the second part [being] to focus on the hearing and perception of the work, hence understanding its context.

Mamoru Okuno, 'etude no.13 hanging ice’, 2011, in "etude in everyday life" at 2P Contemporary Art Gallery, Hong Kong.

Apart from a solo show in an art gallery, Mamoru’s work is also part of the HellHOT! New Music Festival 2012 collection, which is a collaboration of different non-profit institutions and independent art spaces in the city.

Beyond the exhibition itself, 2P Contemporary Art Gallery had other reasons for inviting Mamoru to Hong Kong. Yau explains what his works can bring to the local art scene,

The emphasis lies in the cultural exchange and [it] can be beneficial for Mamoru to experience Hong Kong. In due course, it will raise awareness of conceptual art, because this genre is still quite modest in Hong Kong. Additionally, the general public can engage with this experimental work of art.

Mamoru Okuno, 'etude no.36 water and dry earth’, 2011, in "etude in everyday life" at 2P Contemporary Art Gallery, Hong Kong.

About Mamoru Okuno

Mamoru Okuno (b.1977 in Osaka, Japan) received a BFA from The City University of New York in 2001. His works have been exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo (2012), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei (2011), Aomori Contemporary Art Centre in Aomori (2011), Museum Quartier in Vienna (2009), the Nagi Museum of Modern Art in Okayama (2009), the de Young Museum in San Francisco (2007) and the National Gallery of Armenia in Yerevan (2006). In 2010, etude no.13 hanging ice won first prize at the TOKYO EXPERIMENTAL FESTIVAL organised by Tokyo Wonder Site.

FH/KN/HH

Related Topics: sound art, Japanese artists, conceptual art, Hong Kong art happenings, gallery shows

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