Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hisaharu Motoda

from Hisaharu Motoda's home site:

"In his Neo-Ruins series Motoda depicts a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, where familiar landscapes in the central districts of Ginza, Shibuya, and Asakusa are reduced to ruins and the streets eerily devoid of humans. The weeds that have sprouted from the fissures in the ground seem to be the only living organisms. “In Neo-Ruins I wanted to capture both a sense of the world′s past and of the worlds future,” he explains. Motoda's view of the future at first seems nihilistic, but the proliferation of plant life in the ruined streets seems to suggest that there are other ways for the plant to survive even after our great cities have fallen.

If you think of Japan, you may have a strong image of beautiful nature and oriental culture. However, after experiencing the period of the high growth of economy, Japan now suffers environmental disruption everywhere. When you come to Japan, you might not even find it beautiful. It is a pity, but it is true. Recently, the government and local government took it seriously, and started to consider creating a nature-friendly-environment. The awareness of people is not enough yet, though. Japan was defeated in the World War 2. Then, the Japanese culture and the way of thinking of Japanese people became more westernized. The Majority of young people in Japan don′t know much about their own culture. I was born and grew up right in middle of the period of high economic growth.

As far as art is concerned, I believe that an expression of an artist will be different depending on the environment the artist has been living in, or has grown up. I have been searching for the way of expressing myself with Printing. My work always has something to do with Wabi and Sabi which are the concept of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Wabi means ‘austere refinement’ and Sabi means ‘quiet simplicity’. There is a Japanese saying ‘anything is impermanent’. Perhaps, I want to send a message “Anything is impermanent” through my work. And, I feel beauty on such fragile things, and would like to express it in my work."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ars Chimera

"Ars Chimaera is a field of artistic creativity, which purposefully rearranges new genetic combinations that do not exist in nature, in order to produce organisms with specified heritable aesthetic characteristics. This field of creativity is based on the use of certain genetic and biochemical methods in contemporary art practice, among them neogenesis (correcting the genetic code by exerting influence of amino acids that, though existing in nature, have never been used by terrestrial forms of life to form an organism), degenesis (knock-out of the genes or genetic structures to obtain new characteristics of an organism), and transgenesis (removal – or artificial synthesis – of genes or genetic structures from the cells of an organism and their implantation into the cells of different organisms). In spite of the fact that the first artistic experience based on the synthesis of the E.coli bacterium DNA date as far back as 1986, [1] attempts to formulate terminological definitions of so-called transgenic art occurred only recently. [2] This is hardly surprising as the applied component of science is actually much more highly developed than the theoretical comprehension of scholarly problems – today definitions require additional consideration proceeding from the results of research (in neogenesis, for instance). Besides, a definition such as "chimerical" seems more acceptable to all concerned because it is polysemantic, [3] the variety of its meanings helping widen its terminological and semantic scope as the described artistic practice is interpreted in different ways. As a result, the definition incorporates diverse energetics, and obtains a thoroughness of interpretation to counterbalance plain explanation of the method. Until recently chimerical art practice was a marginal activity of aesthetically-minded scholars and those artists who had abandoned the traditional art space for that of the natural sciences, while today it is in the process of finding a visual artistic and contextual outline. International authorship, the ever-widening geography of grounds for discussions and displays, an ever-increasing number of publications and thematic editions show a significant increase in interest not only in media-phenomena, but also in the suggested range of social and artistic representational tools. Along with this, one cannot but agree that the chimerical trend as a tendency remains practically illegal, being neither organised, nor finished in its concept, terminology and communicative practice – there are no special periodicals, electronic deliveries, regular conferences etc. Nothing is left but the belief that as soon as the "descriptive" stage is over, the stage of institutional legalisation and the trend’s research will not keep us waiting. The "descriptive" stage should be concluded both as a "narration" about Ars Chimaera, and as a narration, which is provided by the trend proper – one that helps it exist in the realm of art."
-- Dmitry Bulatov, Ars Chimaera.


In Jack London’s unfinished novel "The Assassination Bureau" A social machine is so perfectly devised against “Barbarians” (socially undesirables) as to be unstoppable “except by the destruction of its maker.” The inventor, Dragomiloff, establishes a secret society “that will, for a price, assassinate upon request.” An enterprising young man forwards the name of the inventor to the bureau. Dragomiloff has no choice but to kill himself. "A social machine so perfected in it's fanatical aim that it can only be destroyed by destroying its creators as well ... Even in our time, we have allowed for the construction of such a formidable social machinery .. multinational and anonymous .. that's purpose is to attain for a handful of individuals the greatest possible financial profit regardless of the cost to society, protected by a screen of countless, anonymous share holders. Unconcerned with the consequences, these machines invade every area of human activity and look everywhere for monetary gain, even at the cost of human life, or everyone's life, since in the end, even the richest and most powerful will not survive the depletion of our planet."
-- Alberto Manguel

Amoeba City / Mollusc Society (Tokyo)

"... conforming to Western philosophy, which regards each center as the seat of all truth, our town centers are always full. They are places where the values of civilization are collected and condensed : values of spirituality (with churches), power (with offices), money (with banks), goods (with department stores) and words (with the 'agora': cafes and walks). Going downtown means encountering social 'truth', taking part in the sublime richness of 'reality'. "The city I'm referring to (Tokyo) presents this amazing paradox : it does have a center, but this center is empty. The whole city revolves around a place that is both forbidden and indifferent, an abode masked by vegetation, protected by moats, inhabited by an Emporer whom no one ever sees : literally, no one knows who does ever see him." "... Its center is no more than an evaporated ideal whose existence is not meant to radiate any kind of power, but to offer its own empty center to all urban movement as a form of support, by forcing perpetual traffic detours. Thus, it appears as an image that unfurls again and again in endless circles, around an empty core."

"Barthes himself has often pointed out that while the center of a European city is historically linked with a market or cathedral where citizens converge, nothing so clear-cut ever occurs in a Japanese city. "Tokyo, thus, is an 'amoeba city' with its amorphous sprawl and the constant changes it undergoes, like the pulsating body of the organism. And as with an amoeba, Tokyo demonstrates a physical integrity and the capacity for regeneration when damaged." This is a fascinating idea that is clearly linked with that of the 'mollusc society' described by the anthropologist Chie Natane in reference to the 'decentralized' psychological behaviour of the Japanese as compared to the 'vertebrate' behaviour of westerners."

“This city cannot be known except through some sort of ethnographic activity: you need to find your bearings . . . by walking its streets, by looking around you, through habit and experience: each discovery is both intense and fragile, it cannot be repeated, and only its trace can be left in our memory: in this sense, visiting a place for the first time is like starting to write about it: as the address has not been written down, it has to found its own writing”. "The murmuring mass of an unknown language constitutes a delicious protection, envelops the foreigner (provided the country is not hostile to him) in an auditory film which halts at his ears all the alienations of the mother tongue: the regional and social origins of whoever is speaking, his degree of culture, of intelligence, of taste, the image by which he constitutes himself as a person and which he asks you to recognize. Hence, in foreign countries, what a respite! Here I am protected against stupidity, vulgarity, vanity, worldliness, nationality, normality. The unknown language, of which I nonetheless grasp the respiration, the emotive aeration, in a word the pure significance, forms around me, as I move, a faint vertigo, sweeping me into its artificial emptiness, which is consummated only for me: I live in the interstice, delivered from any fulfilled meaning."

Roland Barthes :: L’Empire des Signes

panic architecture / hobby eschatology / doom anxiety

-- by agraphia
In an empty field outside a small Dufferin County hamlet 90 miles northwest of Toronto, Canada, lie 42 school buses buried roughly 15ft underground. They were gutted and lowered into this grave in 1980, secured end to end into a 929-square-metre maze of narrow passageways and shallow, arched ceilings. Twenty years of decomposition after their initial burial they are dark, wet and corroding, more like the ruins of a decrepit, subterrainian dungeon than the pristine, futuristic spacecraft the architect may have envisioned. A few stainless steel water tankers, a large septic tank, and five large steel drums poised vertically like towers complete the structure, which is encased in a solid foot of reinforced concrete and covered in about 2.5 metres of soil. Only the five steel drums, weathered a rust-gold, and the front entrance, a padlocked door of heavy steel, remain visible above ground. An almost invisible, innocuous construction, subtle yet unsettling in its pastoral repose. On first witness it is difficult to imagine the purpose of these decaying towers, lying in an untilled field like abandoned agricultural silos, mysteriously left to rust, ugly and ominous, under an otherwise naive and unsuspecting slice of country sky.

The Survival Shelter : a physical testament to the profound need to make sense of our mortality faced with the uncertainty and inevitability of death. The will to secure order in chaos. The shelter lies somewhere between extremes of fear and hope, pessimism and optimism, destruction and construction. A symbol of apocalypse and rebirth : grave & haven, shipwreck & ark, dystopia & utopia. A physical structure constructed from a blueprint of fear and paranoia, trauma and catastrophe, yet miracle and gift, the promise of hereafter and a new world order. As a "nation awakened to danger", a society at 'risk' to the real possibility, the imminence and immanence of terrorism or other catastrophe, we are told to continue our daily routine. By definition, terrorism is 'the systematic use of violence as a means to intimidate or coerce societies or governments'. To live in fear is to allow the terrorist to win. Shop to survive! Despite the current global climate of violence and our cold war history, the 'survival shelter' remains an architecture of extremes. Whether the classified retreat of the social elite, the private asylum of the socially paranoid or haven of a prepared realist, it is panic architecture, shaped by sinister forces that most of us would rather forget, its very existence a lurking threat to routine normalcy, comfort and security.

The Murders

"In 1586 Gesualdo married his first cousin, Donna Maria d'Avalos, the daughter of the Marquis of Pescara. Two years later she began to have a love affair with Fabrizio Carafa, the Duke of Andria; evidently she was able to keep it secret from her husband for almost two years, even though the existence of the affair was well-known elsewhere. Finally, on October 16, 1590, at the Palazzo San Severo in Naples, when Gesualdo had allegedly gone away on a hunting trip, the two lovers took insufficient precaution at last (Gesualdo had arranged with his servants to have the locks of his palace copied in wood so that he could gain entrance if locked), and he returned to the palace, caught them in flagrante delicto and brutally murdered them both in their bed; afterwards he left their mutilated bodies in front of the palace for all to see. Being a nobleman he was immune to prosecution, but not to revenge, so he fled to his castle at Gesualdo where he would be safe from any of the relatives of either his wife or her lover.

Details on the murders are not lacking, because the depositions of witnesses to the magistrates have survived in full. While they disagree on some details, they agree on the principal points, and it is apparent that Gesualdo had help from his servants, who may have done most of the killing; however Gesualdo certainly stabbed Maria multiple times, shouting as he did, "she's not dead yet!" The Duke of Andria was found slaughtered by numerous deep sword wounds, as well as by a shot through the head; when he was found, he was dressed in women's clothing (specifically, Maria's night dress). His own clothing was found piled up by the bedside, unbloodied. One suggested explanation for this is that Gesualdo first murdered his wife, and after this turned his attentions to the Duke, forcing him to don his lover's clothing, most probably to humiliate him.

The murders were widely publicized, including in verse by poets such as Tasso and an entire flock of Neapolitan poets, eager to capitalize on the sensation; the salacious details of the murders were broadcast in print; but nothing was done to apprehend the Prince of Venosa. The police report [2] from the scene makes for shocking reading even after more than 400 years.

Accounts on events after the murders differ. According to some contemporary sources, Gesualdo also murdered his second son by Maria, who was an infant, after looking into his eyes and doubting his paternity (according to contemporary sources he "swung the infant around in his cradle until the breath left his body"); another source indicates that he murdered his father-in-law as well, after the man had come seeking revenge. Gesualdo had employed a company of men-at-arms to ward off just such an event. However, contemporary documentation from official sources for either of these alleged murders is lacking."

vanit y mutzaa