Ryuichi Sakamoto + Shiro Takatani


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Exhibition of Ryuichi Sakamoto's work wrapping up the YCAM 10th Anniversary Program
Three installations by Ryuichi Sakamoto + Shiro Takatani concurrently on display

The exhibition "ART - ENVIRONMENT - LIFE" by musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, the artistic director for the 10th Anniversary Program, opens as part of the Anniversary Program at the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM].

The exhibition introduces three installations realized in collaboration between Sakamoto, artist Shiro Takatani, and the YCAM InterLab team, as a result of Sakamoto's and Takatani's stay in Yamaguchi.

Ryuichi Sakamoto's thoughts and practice related to ART, ENVIRONMENT and LIFE

Humans today are leading comfortable lives based on the fertile cycles of civilization-informed urban spaces and the surrounding nature. However, the Great Tohoku Earthquake that brought devastating damage to the daily routine two years ago reminded us once again of the fact that we are constantly living side by side with such unpredictable forces of nature, and at the same time, it was an occasion for us to ask from a life-sized point of view, "What does 'environment' mean today?"
In response to this question, YCAM and Ryuichi Sakamoto, the 10th Anniversary Program's artistic director, formulated "Art, Environment, Life" as the 10th Anniversary Program's central theme aiming to illustrate visions of future forms of artistic expression. Behind this theme lies the conviction of Ryuichi Sakamoto, who has been referring to various environmental, peace and social issues, and implementing concrete projects even before the 2011 quake, that "the civilization and art of tomorrow must emerge from a deeper understanding of nature."
Based on this key idea, YCAM hosted a range of events as part of the 10th Anniversary Program that kicked off in July 2013, and that will be concluded with "ART - ENVIRONMENT - LIFE", an exhibition of Sakamoto's own works. Each of the three exhibited installations was produced in collaboration between Sakamoto, artist Shiro Takatani, and YCAM InterLab team, as an attempt to establish a dialogue between the increasingly computerized human society and nature from a new point of view through such substances as fog and water.

Ryuichi Sakamoto + Shiro Takatani "LIFE―fluid, invisible, inaudible... Ver.2"

For this installation, the artists de-/recomposed the opera "LIFE" (1999), in which Ryuichi Sakamoto summarized the 20th century as an age of conflict and disruption, and proposed visions of coexistence for the 21st century.
Suspended from the venue's ceiling are nine water tanks filled with artificial fog, which serves as a screen for successive projections of visuals used in the opera. The piece further incorporates sounds raining down on the audience in concert with the ever-changing imagery, in complex interactions of repeated synchronization and variance. Visitors surrender to the fleeting scenery of lights and sounds, while gradually opening their perception toward the environment.
Introduced in this exhibition is a new version of the piece with additional sounds and visuals illustrating new visions regarding the coexistence of man and nature after the Great Tohoku Earthquake. Also shown at this occasion is video footage of the opera, the original installation version from 2007, and the October 22 performance of "LIFE - WELL".

Ryuichi Sakamoto + YCAM InterLab "Forest Symphony"

Following the Great Tohoku Earthquake, Ryuichi Sakamoto conceived an art project in which he would compose music based on the bioelectric data of trees, with the aim to direct our attention to trees and forests as supporting pillars of human living environments. With the further involvement of the YCAM InterLab team, the project eventually developed into the installation and web contents that are now presented as "Forest Symphony".
For this project, the YCAM InterLab team developed a sensor device for measuring the biopotential of trees, and collecting the measured data on a server via network. The device is installed on trees at different locations around the globe to measure their respective bioelectric data, which Sakamoto used to creates sounds that envelop the venue along with visuals made under the direction of Shiro Takatani, visualising the changing biopotential and information of the respective environments the device is installed in. These elements are spatially integrated into a "forest-like environment" in the form of a sound installation that continuously transforms in response to seasonal and climatic changes.
With the opening of the exhibition, bioelectric data and sounds from the actual exhibition space have been made accessible via the exhibition's dedicated website.

Ryuichi Sakamoto + Shiro Takatani "water state 1"

Water takes on different states depending on the temperature, freezing to ice or condensing to vapor. Such water-based natural phenomena as rain, clouds, fog, snow, oceans, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, icebergs and glaciers all have in common that I never get tired of looking at them.
Water is the source of life that covers 70% of the earth's surface, and that the human body consists of to 70%. (Ryuichi Sakamoto)

Water is a fundamental, life-supporting substance that changes its appearance depending on the situation. Ryuichi Sakamoto has been expressing his fascination with water for a long time, but at the same time also emphasizes the difficulty he has always felt when choosing water as a motif for his work. While laying out the concept for this new work, he began to focus on the possibility of using water as an actual material. The YCAM InterLab team eventually developed a device that can be used to let large amounts of water rain down in droplets, which allowed Sakamoto to work with actual water rather than depicting its different appearances in an indirect manner.
The device is used in this work to cause complex transformations of droplets and water surfaces, and at once translate these into sounds. The harmonic and contrasting aspects of the work's visual and acoustic elements call forth a wealth of memories in the viewer's mind.

Organized by: Yamaguchi City, Yamaguchi City Foundation for Cultural Promotion
In association with: Yamaguchi Board of Education
Supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan in the fiscal 2013
Grants from: The Kao Foundation for Arts and Sciences
Sponsored by: SHISEIDO
Co-developed with: YCAM InterLab
Produced by: Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]