Ota Fine Arts Singapore presents Japanese artist Takao Minami’s (b. 1976) solo exhibition entitled “Medi”. This exhibition marks the debut of his latest work of the same title, presented alongside two newly-made works from his “Light Symbol” (2012-) and “Shadow Symbol” (2016-) series.
“Medi” (2016) is a 6-channel video work where six different images move slowly and simultaneously in front of the viewer. Each screen shows a different landscape in vivid colors. Clouds, erupting volcanos, waterfalls, waves, mountain climbers, workers at construction sites, shepherds, fences, cable cars, boats, kites, swimming dogs, swarms of mosquitos and ants… The captured scenery expands from mountains to seas, from urban to nature, in other words from macro to micro. This wide range of subjects appearing in the work reflects the artist’s wide points of views during his travel.
This work reflects Minami’s journey in the area along the Mediterranean Sea, but it is not a straightforward documentation. Segments of visual and audio materials taken from the area are re-edited and formed into one piece. A journey always starts from one place to another, and one tends to relate what he/she sees to the location where it was sighted. Minami challenges this conventional method of documentation and representation of places. He regards travel as a gradation: in this work, sceneries are cut and re-composed into a smooth continuation of changing images. Through his manipulation of these collected fragments, a new representation of cultural differences is realized.
This collage-like technique is also employed in the artist’s process of piecing together sounds acquired from the surrounding environment. He was also inspired by paintings such as Chinese Southern school paintings and scrolls, where sceneries in the foreground and background are constantly connected by the effective juxtaposition of white margins. This scroll effect can also be observed in how the imagery streams across the screens from one end to another.
To gain these impressive colors, Minami decreases the color information in each image, finally arriving at a reduced state of SMPTE color bars (a television test pattern). He shot the subjects and took them out from the video, subsequently decreasing the gradation of the image. Earlier, he explored this method in his work “in Penta” (2006), and upon making the work “Delta Story” (2007), he came up with the idea of cultural gradation across boundaries. Eventually, he incorporated the technique and idea and made “Fat Shades” (2008). In his latest work “Medi” (2016), the 6-channel video format made it possible for Minami to present his idea with a macroscopic view. In addition, the use of margins also enabled him to expand the possibilities of expressions of spaces.
Travels are processes of time-space transition. Minami aims to go beyond fragmental representation of such transition, and to reconnect pieces of memories and sceneries to realize a smooth and holistic visual experience. Moreover, what is reflected in Minami’s work is not merely travel experiences but expands to encompass his observation and interpretation of different cultures. Just crossing a border, one sometimes could feel that the cultural sceneries have totally changed, yet cultural topography in the contemporary world is much more complicated than we imagine.