Inter-Resonance | Inter-Organics
Venue : Sharjah
Organization : Sharjah Art Foundation
Eitetsu Hayashi, Yuko Mohri, Mirai Moriyama, Tomoko Sauvage, Keiichiro Shibuya, Min Tanaka
Inter-Resonance: Inter-Organics, the second iteration of the four-year collaborative project with Sharjah Art Foundation called Sharjapan, seeks to highlight the distinctive attributes of Japanese art from a contemporary perspective through a showcase of performance and sound art. In art historical terms, when it comes to the three- dimensional arts (spatial arts) as opposed to the temporal arts, Japanese artists have been said to excel at the latter rather than the former. While the same might be said of performance and music, including the traditional arts of Kabuki and Noh, the emergence of a living generation of Japanese artists of global stature who trace their origins to the photography and films of the 1960s is a manifestation of this tendency. As landscapes in Japan evolve due to a mercurial nature and a wooden architecture of limited durability, a philosophy of impermanence based on the realisation that objects with a visible form will change is connected to a keen temporal sensibility. By extension, perhaps this philosophy is also linked to the art of bestowing a form on time itself.
"Shintaichi" is a symbolic term in Japanese culture that more or less means ‘embodied knowledge’. While Western thinking tends to make a separation between the intellect and the body, shintaichi posits the body itself as a site for the production of knowledge. For example, the aesthetics that govern behaviour and comportment, as seen in the propriety and etiquette associated with the tea ceremony and flower arrangement, have a deep connection to visual culture. These forms convey something not through words or theories, but through the body. The Japanese do not look only with their eyes; they possess sensors that imbibe information from their surroundings with their entire bodies. Before manifesting itself in a particular form, this information is absorbed not only at a sensory level, but also at the level of consciousness belonging to embodied knowledge.
The environment in Japan is one of rich and abundant nature. Surrounded by oceans and subject to the changes of the four seasons, 67% of the land surface in the country is occupied by forests. The French philosopher Augustin Berque argues that the Japanese see nature as an extension of their own bodies and society. Finding it difficult to view any disruption in this relationship, Berque accounts for the unplanned destruction of nature during the rapid economic growth of the 1970s by saying that it occurred ‘in spite of their love for nature’. Another sort of relationship is also at play here, one that is different from the binary Western characterisation of the relationship between nature and society. This mode of thinking has a profound connection to an animism that perceives a spiritual dimension in non-human entities.
The title of the second Sharjapan exhibition, Inter-Resonance: Inter- Organics, Japanese Performance and Sound Art, expresses both kinds of relationships: our relationship to sound and non-material entities and our relationship to our bodies and material objects. ‘Inter-resonance’ also implies ‘intra-resonance’. At the same time that sound sources resonate audibly with each other, they also create a sort of introspective resonance that arises within a single subject, body or organisation. ‘Inter-organics’, on the other hand, refers to the relationship and process of communication that arises between different organisms, including humans, animals, plants and objects.
Long before John Cage’s 4'33", the Japanese were accustomed to perceiving noise as a kind of voice or music. Matsuo Basho’s famous haiku is perhaps an exemplar of this: ‘Deep silence/The shrill of cicadas/Seeps into rocks.’ While this particular aesthetic can also be found in the genre of field recordings that flourished during the 1970s, it is the delicacy and diversity of the sounds recorded by Japanese sound artists and engineers that have attracted much attention. In recent years, many younger artists have sought to give form to the voice of nature. Hideki Umezawa, for instance, records the sounds made by ice melting in polar regions and various snow-covered mountains, experimenting with ways of visualising this phenomenon in an installation. For this exhibition, Tomoko Sauvage has created a sound installation that uses a hydrophone to record and recreate the sounds made by a chunk of ice hung from the ceiling as it melts and falls into bowls of water. The sounds produced by several bowls resonating in the space evoke a sense of both beauty and transience while also concealing a latent horror suggested by the apocalyptic music being played out by climate change at a macro level.
"Inter-Resonance:Inter-Organics ―Japanese Performance and Sound Art" Yuko Hasegawa (excerpts from catalog text)