The museum show marks the first time Miyanaga Akira has exhibited in Australia.
Through layered structures, Miyanaga Akira creates alternate perceptions of space and time. The exhibition features five recent works by the Japanese artist.
From 18 November 2016 until 30 April 2017, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne is showing “REALTIME: Miyanaga Akira”. It gathers together recent work by Japanese contemporary artist Miyanaga Akira.
Miyanaga uses time-lapse photography and post-production techniques in order to create poetic and layered works. NGV Senior Curator of Contemporary Art Simon Maidment highlights the capacity of Miyanaga’s work to challenge perceptions we take for granted. He observes:
Miyanaga’s moving images are immersive, beautiful and, above all, contemplative. As the stillness of a grassy meadow is enveloped by the frenetic energy of urban life, we are invited to reflect on our own changing environments, our perception of the world around us and the ebb and flow of time.
Born in 1985, Miyanaga studied at the Graduate School of Kyoto City University of Arts. He works in video, video installation, photo montage and he is also a VJ. In 2015 he launched “ViDeOM” for video and design production for more commercial works and he is a co-founder of GURA studio, an artistic collective located in an old sake storehouse. This studio started in 2009 with six artist based in Kyoto and it now has nine members. The old warehouse is a flexible space that is used freely by each member for a number of purposes. Every two months or so there are alternative events led by the members, with the concept always initiated by creators. The space encourages the creation of community and a grassroots network.
Miyanaga has exhibited in a number of key organisations, such as Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2014), The Museum of Modern Art Wakayama (2013) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2013) as part of the Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions.
Layered scenes of everyday life
Miyanaga takes footage from scenes of everyday life in in urban and rural Japan and incorporates them into enthralling moving images works. The fragments of subway crowds or rice fields are merged using time-lapse techniques that create pieces exploring time and space. Miyanaga splices, rearranges and superimposes the images creating works that move between realism and abstraction.
In an interview with Jane Devery, Curator of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Miyanaga explained his practice of using layered structures:
I sometimes try to work with still images, but regardless of whether the images are moving or still, I always use layered structures. Still images are really difficult for me to use, because they have a completely different time concept to moving images.
Miyanaga uses video to document the world around him, transforming the images into something new with the aim of seeing things from new perspectives. The familiar becomes fragmented and disturbed, leading to new insights that layer over previous beliefs. He comments that
even if people gain a new perspective, their old perspective still remains. Both views are essential to my art.
Music has also influenced Miyanaga’s artistic practice, especially classical piano composers such as Erik Satie and Claude Debussy who were played in his family home. However, the process is led strongly by intuition, rather than a strategic decision to use certain content. He explains that the “process starts with selecting raw video materials” and then he develops ways to best use what he has collected.
Creating multiple meanings
Recently Miyanaga has been incorporating more text into his work, exploring the meaning of the title throughout the pieces. The title and its meaning become another layer in his work that interacts with the other layers.
One example of this is WAVY (2014), a large-scale video work that combines images of rural and urban settings from Japan. The piece illustrates the challenge of rapid urban expansion through its imagery. Miyanaga explains the multiple meaning in his work, saying:
The Japanese word nami means “wave”, “ordinariness” and “row of something” at the same time […] WAVY explores my interest in layers of language as well as layers of images.
Another work in the exhibition, See Saw (2015), compiles video footage that was taken while driving over a bridge. The mirrored effect of the layers in the work disorientates the viewer, disturbing the linearity of time that can often be found in time-based art. As explained in the exhibition, “many of [Miyanaga’s] works are characterised by a strange non-temporal quality: they appear to have no beginning and no end.”
An exhibition review in In Review explains that in See Saw
There are two images of the same bridge angled as if the cars are rolling off the road into the sky. It is beguiling. It takes a moment of inquiry to orientate yourself.
One of the major works in the exhibition is REALTIME-MATERIEL (2015), a large-scale video projection over five metres in length of an urban scene made into a surreal composition. The piece uses footage from a busy subway in Japan, which the artist then layers into increasingly complex patterns accompanied by a pulsating soundtrack. The result is the transformation of a daily, somewhat tedious scene into something magical.
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