Friday, April 1, 2011

The decision- taken more a year ago

If you can't see the mountain very well, there is a a high res image on my flickr.

A little more than a year ago I was faced with having to make a decision about a whether to start a new artwork somehow dealing with my Fuji obsession, with only 8 weeks to the exhibition deadline. 

With all decisions that take a bit of thinking, I like to go and sit on a train or bus and watch the landscape go past. I think this is a by-product of the all the commuting I did during my 20's to the city to hang out with friends and to go to work and uni.

While it Tokyo, the place where I felt there was space for my brain to work was the edges of the city- especially Kamakura. So I headed off to Kenchoji temple hoping to get a view of Fuji. I had started the day a little late and on the train line I could see that it was pretty misty with only the slightest outline of Fuji. By the time I got out at Kita Kamakura I wasn't sure of my chances of seeing it at all. The photo above is taken from higher up the hill than the lookout at the temple. At the lookout itself you could hardly see the outline of the mountain.

The central question that has been on my mind in the last couple of years, partly due to my PhD but also from the dialogue in visual arts at the moment about relational aesthetics and the challange to the art object from critics engaging with environmental sustainability, anti-art market and the dematerialisation of the art object. I am never sure where my work sits in all this dialogue. On the one hand I think the content of my work is connected strongly to post-conceptual practice (and by extension relational aesthetics??) but I remain resolutely interested in the art object as a thing, which has the potential to contain and gather meaning. And besides which, I enjoy making, doing, drawing, and I think in images. It would be cutting of a large part of myself to just ignore that and deny myself the pleasure of a studio practice.

So the two questions I turned over in my mind while I watched the veils of clouds drift down slowly obscuring Fuji were:
  • Would there be many good viewing days left? How likely was it that I was going to see the mountain very much from that late January day till early April?
  • In what way could the act of searching and viewing become an artwork that made itself complete through audience interaction? How could this interaction speak of the daily action of some of the people who lived within view of Fuji, or came into contact with Fuji, that would speak of the action of collecting - experiences and vistas, and memorialising such experiences. By concentrating on the act of collecting would it be possible to avoid overly nationalistic, or touristic, sentiments in a work which, no matter how carefully avoided, would nevertheless garner?
I decide to abandon a project I was thinking about and focus myself of finding a way of working with these question if I hoped to have some work by the exhibition deadline of early April. In retrospect I think it was a good idea to change course, as it also refocused my "bird projects" resulting in the films which I was invited to show in the Aichi Triennale.

I don't think these questions are answered yet (for me the work is ongoing). I thought this blog was a way of opening up myself and my practice to some kind of discussion- something I have avoided for 5 or so years. (long story!)

More than one year on I am enjoying writing the blog and the contact it bring me with other bloggers and readers.

1 comment:

  1. A Fuji obsession ... strangely enough, we used to call the mountain, half in jest but only half so, "The Obsessive Cone". I'm sure that, if you let it, the mountain will provide the inspiration. As Fukada Kyuya said, "“Fuji is there for everyone and yet, soaring into eternity, stands for something beyond any man's grasp.”