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R E S E A R C H  P R O J E C TS  I N  J A P A N

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文部科学省奨学金

Reading Japanese literature I was inspired to live in Japan when I read Jun'ichirō Tanizaki’s novel In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃 In'ei Raisan) which explored Japanese aesthetic particularly that of light and environment. (1) 

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As Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakushō) Scholar from 1997-2001 and on frequent visits I directed nine projects including photo works on office environments (1998-99), abandoned public spaces (1999-2000), entropy (2006-present) and exhibitions with Asahi Corporation, Mizuma Gallery, Art Fair Tokyo, and Nagasawa Museum, Matsuyama Japan. I am now preparing a series of art projects on Japanese indigenous culture, hybrid cultures, notions of border, generational identity as well as the geographically-dispersed museum (2018-present) 

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Joynes, Truck, Awajishima, 2006, lambda print

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This has also inspired me to explore sites in transition and the idea of “lost cities” in Japan (2000), Germany (2003) and Russia (2017). I am also investigating the idea of memory and its transience. 

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Inspired by film director, Alain Resnais’ tempero-disjunctive Last Year at Marienbad (1961) I became interested in how the director led the audience as n unwitting explorers falling into Surrealist-like narratives that cannot be distinguished from the real and the unreal. 

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As a response to this sense of memory and ambiguity I created two series of paintings, one of which Golden State (2011), below explores a convergence of forms, lights and colors that represent an after-image and flash-memory. This is a visual impression of Japan’s vertical urban landscapes in which I have lived particularly in Shinjuku in Tokyo. which is a space of relentless light, color, faces and movement. 

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Joynes, Golden State, 2011. oil on canvas. ht 72 inches width 110 inches. © ARS, New York

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For me there is both a verticality and a horizontality to visual excavation. Objects coalesce into landscapes. The landscape possesses a presence of of eyes which are encountered everywhere. Where I as spectator am conversely the object of other spectators. 

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Notes

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(1) There is a phenomenon called Futatsu Doki ふたつどき, literally, the time of two lights, which is the experience of the onset of diminishing natural light at sunset and the concurrent emergence of artificial light. I see this is symbolic for the notion of transitions of form (entropy) and the intellectual and aesthetic traditions experienced with the onset of new technologies.

(2) see Eskola, Jack (2015). Harue Koga: David Bowie of the Early 20th Century Japanese Art Avant-garde.

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My research in Japan continues to explore artists such as Harue Koga (1895-1933) and Yamamoto Kansuke (2) (1914-1987) both leading figures in Japanese Surrealism as well as the literary works of Haruki Murakami (b 1949) who explores recesses of human memory and the transience of dreams between the world of wakening and sleep. 

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I am also exploring the juxtapositions and transitions in three-levels of Japanese culture from Pre-Modern (that of Tanizaki) to early Modern to notions of new New Media Contemporary and its new positions within Global and Networked Culture.

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