Searching for invisible body contours

Through sculpture-related experiences such as working with clay and giving forms, I often become conscious of the meaning of looking at an object. It refers to the act of watching the object carefully, carving materials physically, transporting it to eventually transform a space. It is the act of thinking through labor dealing with conflicts between information coming through my eyes, images in my mind, and materials that I have at hand.

While creating an object through observation, I always think about what is missing there, imagining its back side despite of looking at the front. I not only think of my feelings at different moments including the transportation time but also think of the past and what I have not seen yet. Different from a painting, it is not cut into a frame. It is neither edited like video images. I can incorporate elements of both time and space as one into this work of creation. In short, it is probably an act closest to the act of looking at an object in our daily life.

Looking at the pose of Michelangelo’s sculptures of slaves, we remember, from how the bones and muscles covering its surface flow, physical pain and restraint that we felt when we were in the similar position. What it expresses is not simply physical pain, but the slave’s spiritual pain. It also reveals how the artist viewed it and felt. One’s eyes and body can be replaced with the slave’s body and spirit, as well as the power and feelings of the artist who carved the sculpture, through the traces of chisels. Rock as a substance before being used as a material and the image of a slave confined in it are grasped as a single entity. The act of our looking at an object is our work of repeating expansion and contraction while going around an object jumping over the image and the material, as the body is replaced a number of times.

This replacement and expansion of the body can be observed not only in a concrete object like a human body but also in space itself. For example, minute details observed under a microscope, the appearance of the Milky Way far across the sky, and the scenery on a cold foggy morning, the outline, distance, horizontality and size of an object become ambiguous. What is more, water vapor particles fill space densely from a distant mountain range all the way to the surface of my retinas, and the chill stimulating the pores of my skin reaches my eyes, nose and comes into my mouth, that make me feel the inside of my body and the boundary between the inside and the outside becomes unclear. In this kind of scene, as my body is fragmented into an indistinct being in vapor in the air, I feel as if my body began to dissolve in space itself. This time the body is not replaced with a specific object, but begins to dissolve over the boundary between the object and the space, and I feel that it is something like an indefinable organ.

As mentioned above, human eyes that come into contact with everything through eyesight and the sense of skin look at the whole with awareness to detail, and realize the existence of the object in all directions in the space surrounding it. While turning my eyes to feel the other side that I am ever unable to see, I repeat the act of filling up the visible and the invisible simultaneously. Rather than simply looking at an object, I try to grasp time and space while freely using my nerves, memory and sense of touch, including movements in which I use my whole body.

Substance exists as a trace of our mediation between the artist and the receiver. Because we have the body, our common container, we can communicate with each other through a variety of substance.

Of my works, a variety of material and space is the extension of my body, such as photographs as layers of time, pulp that surrounds space copying tactile senses, lines drawn as traces of acts, and surfaces that are permeable and reflect. Maintaining this expansion, I will continue searching for invisible body contours.

Catalogue of Nobuhiro Nakanishi exhibition: Transport view Aomori Contemporary Art Center (2011.4.24-6.19)

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