"The microscope is not only a device that allows us to see a linear expansion of objects, but also an instrument that makes us perceive a temporal and spatial "gap".
J.S: Your research investigates aspects linked to nature and to the feeling that men have about it, although the means you employ are technological and highly contemporary: can we say that these means are a sort of microscope which allows us to take a close look to the most primitive aspects of creation, transformation and evolution, including those that seem to be linked to the old times?
SO: My work might be like perceiving nature through a microscope. In my case, the microscope is not only a device that allows us to see a linear expansion of objects, but also an instrument that makes us perceive a temporal and spatial "gap". During the research I worked with researchers on fossils that can be seen with "electron microscope", being "microfossils". Thanks to this technology, we can get information about some incredibly old Earth’s conditions and the movement of continents. I think it’s important not only that we can see small things as bigger but also, in a broad sense, that we develop relationships with time and space which go beyond our senses.
J.S: The place you chose to work in, “Mad Lab”, is an old Japanese house renovated by an architect friend of yours, Junpei Mori, with a great care of preserving it. There’s a sharp contrast between Mad Lab and its operational and aseptic urban setting in Matsudo. Architecture, in this sense, has a sort of social responsibility and a poetic mission; do you think your job is a symbol of the relationship between your works and society? Who are the recipients of your works?
SO: Matsudo is a city that was built during the Edo period. There used to be many merchant’s houses here. My studio is the result of a renewal – carried out primarily by an architect friend of mine – of an old merchant’s house. Not only in Matsudo but also throughout Japan, the old houses were rebuilt several times over the years, not paying too much attention to the preservation of buildings. I guess it was due to unavoidable circumstances, but there’s something sad and melancholic about all this.
I think that my work does not concern the direct resolution of social issues, but I always wish that the act of making art carried out by a writer could give a good (possible) influence on the local community. I think it’s important to work with all sorts of people and with the government office of a local community, together with the power of artists and architects. We manage this studio with the cooperation of the local community and the area management company, Machizu Creative.
J.S: You share your workspace with other 4 artists. Did this cohabitation help the creation of a network of contacts between different artists? How much does this aspect of sharing knowledge mean to you and to your research?
SO: Our studio is named "MADLAB" and is shared between architects Junpei Mori, Kei Machida, interior designer Takeshi Nishio, sculptor Kenichi Shikata, artists Tsuyoshi Anzai, Hiroyuki Abe and others. Since it’s not that spacious, each one of us uses it when he needs it, rather than working in there at the same time. For this reason we don’t meet up there so frequently. Since it is a community with artists who are active in different fields, we don’t only share space but also actively share information. Sound is my specialty, so I often ask sculptors questions about materials and architects about structure. Moreover, in Matsudo there are many barmen, so I often drink alcohol. You have to be careful not to drink too much, since they serve very strong sake. 🙂
J.S: The stones of “Paleopacific” are from the mountains near your places of origin, if I’m not mistaken. You told us you’re a native of the prefecture of Tochigi. There is therefore something very personal in your works: I’ve read about some of your choices about materials as a kind of family album: your homeland, sounds and atmospheres…
SO: This work is made of a stone produced in a city called Kuzu, which is not far from the place where I was born. When I was a kid, I had some fossils that have been mined from there by my grandparents. The stone was a fossil of an organism similar to a rice grain and it was called Fusulina. It looked like a regular beautiful pattern that didn’t seem like a living thing/ organism at first glance. It was a surprise to discover that the trace elements of this apparently inorganic being had the element of life in common with me. And I use that fossils as materials now. The thought of such things from my childhood is linked to the memory of my grandparents, and it naturally makes me feel nostalgic.
However, on the other hand, we can say that this work is related to another aspect of memory. The fossils used in the work were small creatures of the sea dating back several hundred million years ago. They breathed carbon dioxide contained in the ocean, where they grew. When they died, they became small islands and stones. (The island is said to have been near the present Texas, according to a research that shows that a part of Tochigi Prefecture in Japan and a part of Texas in the United States were next to each other hundreds of millions of years ago). In other words, these fossils contain the same carbon dioxide that was once part of their body itself.
In my work "unearth", these stones have been melted through chemical reactions and that way the ancient carbon dioxide was released. It amplifies the sound generated by carbon dioxide and makes it audible, but you don’t just listen to the sound but also end up taking in the carbon dioxide into your body. Carbon dioxide is not absorbed, it leaves in fact the body again, but what fascinates me is that the body of very ancient organisms and ours are “momentarily intersecting”. I am interested in the relationship between existences which are far apart and can’t share memories. It might be said that you are receiving memories that you could not perceive through substances.
J.S: The top floor is what we might call a “big mess”, since it’s filled with all sorts of things: loads, cables, boxes and electrical devices, stones, brushes, wood, plastic and a lot more… You pile up objects but you also collect them, after all they’re objects discarded by other people. Now they’re in random order, but they could have different importance and value at a later stage.
What visual characteristics have the objects you decide to bring here?
Is it possible to find the access key to a parallel world that makes it possible to discover the macrocosm hidden inside the microcosm of small things?
SO: My studio is cluttered, first and foremost because I’m lazy 🙂
It’s a place that is used not merely to make art, but also to exhibit artworks, emphasizing and reconsidering the meaning of the installation work. To ensure this, the room on the second floor, that is the warehouse, gets cluttered rapidly and steadily.
On the other hand, I believe that the studio corresponds to the concept of animal's den for writers. Just like animals gather materials from the natural surroundings to make a den that fits them, I may also say that I connect these things and “compress” them to create a work .
When gathering these bulk materials, I’m not concerned about the visual elements. I only gather and accumulate what I consider necessary. It is important to me to “gather the world” created by a series of random things, rather than visual elements, so that they could be perceived and heard as sounds someday.