fig. 1 "Wondina" (2009), HD video, courtesy of Kodama Gallery, copyright © Akira Miyanaga
Images of urban night scenes are projected on several wall surfaces via a number of projectors. This makes me feel as if the images enfold the whole exhibition room. The images were taken with car-mounted cameras while the cars were in motion. The resultant blurred images and noises of the towns remain in the images. The projectors and wiring are highly visible in the darkish room as they have been laid out on the floor with no attempt at concealment. Compared to Akira Miyanaga’s extremely fine-featured past work, “Wondina” (2009, HD video) [fig. 1], this latest installation of his, entitled “about the lights of land” (2010, 8ch video projection), makes viewers imagine an experimental circuit which leaves us fragile and favorable impression.
Night scenes and noises, which in themselves are not usually considered to move rhythmically, start to have a sense of constant speed through their having been included in loop images. This creation is reminiscent of electronic music, such as techno music and Electronica, although it is composed of fairly analogue materials, such as night views and the noises of towns. This may be due to the fact that it was created using monotonous rhythm and loop images. Particularly, it reminds me of Squarepusher’s “Iambic 9 Poetry” (included on the album “Ultravisitor”). Nonetheless, Miyanaga and Squarepusher seem to have taken opposite approaches through each of their creations, namely “about the lights of land” and “Iambic 9 Poetry”.
In “Iambic 9 Poetry”, each part of the tone gradually comes to delay its timing within the monotonous loop iteration. Also, some parts which had not been originally overlapped with each other start to crossover; whilst at the same time, other parts which have not been audible thus far (because they had been overlapped) start to separate out from the mix and become audible. As a result, this work comes to lose its sense of unity as music. As we come closer to the climax of this number, the sense of unity increasingly starts to disappear. This makes the number move into a self-destructive pattern. On the other hand, the beauty of each part of sound comes to stand out within these noises which have lost their sense of unity.
fig. 2 View from the exhibition "about the lights of land", courtesy of Kodama Gallery
In contrast, Miyanaga’s images which are projected on the largest wall surface at the centre of the exhibition room were edited to look as if several kinds of night views shot at different spaces and times have gradually become multiplexed. The film includes lights which are attached to a sign of monthly parking lot, traffic lights, interior lights shining brightly at ‘family’ restaurants, and an arcade in an amusement area. Miyanaga has edited this work effectively by using a method in which he displaced the sequence of images slowly [fig.2]. Seeing details of this work, we can grasp that the night images and views in this film were taken in Japan. However, the scenes begin to overlap with each other and the layers of lights and noises become increasingly complex in the loop iteration. Then the views change into abstract images. They become just a swirl of lights which no longer remind us of certain places or objects. Nevertheless, this work evokes in us some kind of strange emotion, similar to a mixed feeling akin to that of déjà vu and a feeling for unknown things. These night views may remind viewers of both bright lights shining in cities such as Hong Kong at night and neon signs glittering in nightlife districts located in some poor rural areas. In this way, Miyanaga has tried to reduce characteristics of each night scene and integrate them into this whirl of lights.
In such a process of unifying night view images, it seems that Miyanaga has attempted to find a certain rhythm common to the different night scenes. Miyanaga himself commented in a press release that “What brings diversity in the world would not be differences among units, but the fact that the same units are acting in various rhythms”.*1 It is thus clear that one of his objectives is to pursue identities existing in diversity.
However, diversity can never be absorbed by one identity easily. On the largest wall surface in the display space, a looped film is projected. In the film, a series of images taken with car-mounted cameras gradually come to overlap each other, changing into a swirl of lights, and then finally come back to a set of images again. Unlike this, the different night views are displayed on each of the other projectors respectively. In addition, a semi-transparent acrylic plate is placed in front of each projector. Accordingly, images are partially reflected and small reflected figures appear on the back of projectors. Each such image continues to make a loop independently without getting involved in the whirl of light – without being absorbed by any identity. In this way, the installation space created by Miyanaga, which can also be called an experimental circuit, reveals how difficult it is to unify diversity. In other words, his creation shows us that he has been tackling the tough question of how to pursue “identical units” which are hidden in diversity without espousing the restoration of an “ideological system (long story)” as well as the increasing number of “stories of daily lives (short stories)”.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)