kaetemiru–Time For A Change
10:00am-6:00pm, October 22 — December 11, 2016/ admission free
Video projection on the wall(8minutes loop),
photo: YAMAMOTO Tadasu
Stories going round and round
In a dark room are colored cones and a megaphone, and the sound of wind is heard. In another room in the direction where the sound comes from, videos are projected on the left and right walls and nine megaphones are installed. The voices of plural people describing the images are heard from the megaphones, and a certain period of time is cut off while the place and the characters are kept unknown. In this work, nine viewers of an Arikawa-produced film, in which no word is spoken, created stories and the artist edited their voices reading the stories and made them into this installation.
By presenting hard-to-understand images using video and photography as media, Arikawa delays images to become stiff in one’s mind and makes works that expand the meaning of ‘seeing.’ In his video works produced during about five years before this program, he did not use any words. Since the act of ‘seeing’ is concomitant with ever-changing time and related memory and senses, it is necessary to ‘continue watching.’ Therefore, he avoids narrowing or limiting images by common recognition of words. Using the opportunity of this residency production, however, he loosened the outline of what is visible by using the others’ words instead of his own, and that way, he attempted to delay stiffening of images. Stories made from the moving image include interpretation and creation. The finished work maintains objectivity in that all is not the artist’s creation. The artist has captured the subject through a camera filter, but here he seems to see the work again through viewers’ interpretations. In other words, one might say that ‘the work’ itself is presented through the agency of interpretations arising out of the work.
For Arikawa who explores ‘seeing,’ the theme of this exhibition kaetemiru—Time For A Change meant ‘kaete (change)’ and ‘miru (see).’ In his video this time, meanings of everyday things and the actions involved were changed, so, at first glance, the viewer could not understand what the characters in the video were doing. How does the viewer interpret the video image? In the setting of a field with rotating windmills, the scene continues to proceed matter-of-factly.
This hard-to-understand image is shaking our experience of ‘seeing.’ When the meaning that the viewer has taken for granted is stripped off, thrown out of our daily life, they try to find out what in the world it is. Observing with a fresh mind from scratch, they find out that colors and shapes that they see and sounds they hear turn into symbols, and letters that hardly form letters in the flowing images become clues to explain the meaning. What they need here are their consciousness trying to find a hidden background from visible shapes and unconscious non-visual perception. They manage to connect somehow their personal experiences in the past and add to them what is going on in their mind in order to find answers for each of them. For Arikawa, the condition of one’s seeing is not equal to the act of forming an image on the retina through the eye’s lens. Rather, it means what one chooses to see and how to see it, that is, how an image in the viewer’s mind is seen through his memory and perceptions such as tactile and hearing senses. The act of seeing is left further to individuals’ judgment, and there is the same number of different interpretations as that of viewers. Words are spun from incidents that they understand and ideas they think of, and ‘stories’ are told.
The same video on which the stories are based is projected on the walls facing with each other in the back room. The structure of having images separately on the left and right as seen from the entrance blurs the focus of the eye. Suddenly scenes from a different angle or of a different structure are projected to widen dimensions of the film, but the images of the same contents respond in concert with each other like a mirror and the images are iterated. Megaphones which also appear in the video function as speakers in this place. The voices telling each story of the nine individuals are heard. A megaphone is a tool to amplify the voice, and it converts sound and directs it outward. In this work, it is ‘a medium that changes’ something. Thinking of the process in which things are changed and interpreted through the medium, a megaphone can be regarded as a human being. Speakers are scattered on the entire floor so that one can listen to each different voice in a free position. Depending on the position of listening, it is difficult to understand what the words are saying or it could cause mishearing, but when fragments of the words are put together, another context and meaning are created. The ‘interpretation’ of the viewer creates ‘stories’ from the video without words at the production stage, and it repeats changing itself into another form in the installation completed as a piece of work. In addition, hearing others’ ‘stories’ in this space, the interpretation of the images which the viewer is actually looking at is changed.
In the last scene where the character turns to a megaphone, he expects us to hear such words that convey some meaning of the video, but despite such expectations, he starts humming a song. How to edit the voices in producing an installation is up to the artist’s ‘interpretation.’ During the production process, however, ‘stories’ were broken into ‘words,’ and further, only meanings were removed, and taken apart to something similar to ‘sounds.’ Words, while they provoke some images, no longer convey meanings but begin to be heard as sounds, and songs seem to be emitted from a megaphone as a mixture of words and sounds. Sounds are elements different from words, which have meanings, but in this work, they are arranged in parallel as playing the role of conveying images while floating in the space. The space is created by breaking up images, sounds and words, and in this work, the viewer is enveloped in the images. The viewer here links hearing and visual senses to reconstruct his interpretation and a story of the video. It works as a means to create a new interpretation.
By presenting before our eyes various ‘interpretations’ conceived from one video, the artist showed differences in what we are seeing and ambiguities in changing things that we are seeing including the agency of words. The act of ‘seeing’ is not fixing an image as temporary recognition. It shows us how ‘seeing’ incorporates the surroundings, not only visual, and continues to update those surroundings. Does the windmill rotating in the video represent an image that is continuously updated as well as the passage of time? ‘Nine’ of the nine stories seems to make us feel uneasy as we imagine if additional one would present something else. These stories refuse to be inflexible and continue to go round.
 According to an interview with ARIKAWA Shigeo, AC2, No. 18 (Aomori: Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, 2017)