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One of the initial reasons I wanted to go to Japan in the 1990s was because of Jun'ichirō Tanizaki’s writing on the balance of Japanese traditional life and rapid change and modernization. I was particularly interested in his novel In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃 In'ei Raisan) which explored Japanese aesthetic particularly that of light  and environment. After completing my studies at Goldsmiths I moved to Tokyo and remember the uncanny sensation of being between two places. 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.


Since 1997 as Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakushō) Scholar from 1997-2001 and a Nagasawa Printmaking Fellow (2006) I have been exploring entropy and form. This has been through observation in nature of objects through walks in Southern Japan’s Awaji Island and observing objects that are subsumed by nature (See below, Truck, Awajishima, 2006).

Joynes, Truck, Awajishima, 2006, lambda print

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. Inspired by Alain Resnais’ tempero-disjunctive Last Year at Marienbad (1961) is a film about two people that think they have met before but cannot recall when and where. The screenplay written by Alain Robbe-Grillet. weaves the spectator as unwitting explorers through Surrealist-like narratives that cannot be distinguished from the real and the unreal. As a response to this sense of memory and ambiguity I created two series of paintings, one of which Golden State (2011) explores a convergence of forms, lights and colors that represent a subtle flash-memory visual impression of Japan’s vertical urban landscapes particularly in Shinjuku in Tokyo. a space of relentless light, color and movement.

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

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.

Above, a graph depicting An Archeologists View of a Site as Translated and Flattened into a Painting (2008) as part of my Ph.D thesis (2012).  


My research in Japan continues to explore artists such as Harue Koga (1895-1933) and Yamamoto Kansuke (1) (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.  


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.


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

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