I believe that art is not separable from science, philosophy, social, economic or political reality. Art is something I cannot predict; rather, it happens without pre-knowledge. It happens with the force of energy and inevitability. I only have to carry it onwards to bring it into being a cohesive whole.
Creative energy is in a way like rain that comes down from the sky when the accumulated humidity can no longer remain suspended in the air and drops to the earth.
In such a way, my first “WEB” piece was born in 1999. I did not arrive at this title after a long deliberation over a catchy name for my work; instead, it came to me when I installed the work in the gallery. Coincidentally, several months later, I came across a book called The Web of Life on my basement bookshelf. In it, American physicist and systems theorist Fritjof Capra articulated the feelings that had motivated me to create such a piece:
“The basic tension is one between the parts and the whole. The emphasis on the parts has been called mechanistic, reductionist or atomistic; the emphasis on the whole holistic, organismic, or ecological……….
Understanding ecological interdependence means understanding relationships. It requires the shifts of perception that are characteristic of systems thinking-from parts to the whole, from objects to relationships, from contents to patterns. A sustainable human community is aware of the multiple relationships among its members…”
These quotations became the central focus of my art making. I found my purpose in creating works that remind people that we are all connected in many overlapping webs woven out of the common forces that affect the human condition: family origin, economic stressors, religious beliefs, nature, time, place, and technology. After all, we are only human beings who were born and will die, only to be replaced by others in the community of man.
This newest work, “Cloud” evolved through a gradual progression. First, I was curious about the word itself: cloud systems store endless amounts of digital records and data. I also recalled my childhood memory of the Japanese movie called “Non-chan Rides on the Cloud.” I was only in first grade when I watched this movie and admired Non-chan, who could float on the cloud. It depicted a dream world at that time. Now, everybody can get on the cloud through technological means like when in an airplane. Once we get into the cloud, we become surrounded by humid air and find nothing. But I can still admire clouds from the ground, especially since clouds somehow evoke feelings of hopes and dreams for me. At the same time, clouds are metaphors for life itself. They look so beautiful from the ground or from far away; however, they are empty and there is nothing once we are inside of them.
I would like to create an artwork that carries my fantasy hopes and dreams, yet reflects my complex emotional paradoxical feeling of nothingness through my Cloud artwork. I intentionally chose onions and potatoes as metaphorical substances to make my work. When we peel onion skins one after another, what are left are skins but nothing else. When we open a potato, there is nothing unlike when we open an apple. This reminds me of life itself. In order to make my sculpture, I peeled onion skins and sliced potatoes and dried them until they lost 90% of their moisture. What I discovered during the process was how beautiful the resulting aged skin was. I also was drawn towards the unexpected beautiful curvature of sliced potatoes and onion skin that occurred by reducing the moisture from the cells. After making a silicon rubber mold of the dried onion skins and sliced potatoes, I made a range of differently pigmented resin pieces. To me they are like individual cells. I made modules first by connecting four or five pieces with stainless steel wire without the use of sketches. It was quite like the chance operation John Cage mentioned for his work process. I then connect the modules together to discover the right matches. Gradually, a substantial shape emerged. My work tells me what to do next. I just follow. This process is similar to the growth of an organism.
Is there any relationship between my artwork, Cloud, and the technological cloud? Both are artificial products and both are able to multiply endlessly; once we are determined to destroy them, they can be corrupted instantly. In today’s civilized society, we no longer can live without technology and artificial materials. We co-exist with them although we are part of nature.
Why do we live like this? Why do we constantly create new products? As long as we have the energy to move on, we are always longing for new encounters and discoveries as we are born to be curious.
As we tend to make mistakes and meet all different kinds of difficulties, I stumble upon unexpected problems often while I work. Making art is never easy; however, when I witness my work reaching maturity by coming to a cohesive whole, I always feel it is a rewarding activity and want to continue until my energy runs out.
March 24, 2014
In computing, “the cloud” is just a metaphor. In the art of Yuriko Yamaguchi, it becomes compellingly tangible.
The Osaka-born Yamaguchi, who’s been working in the U.S. since the 1970s and who is now based in Vienna, Va., uses steel, copper and brass wire along with small pieces of hand-cast resin to create sprawling modular networks that suggest communications networks with an uncanny lightness.
Yamaguchi has been toying with the intersection of digital networks and art since the Internet go-go days of the late 1990s, when she began creating a series called “Web” that, as she writes, explored the “many overlapping webs woven out of the common forces that affect the human condition: family origin, economic stressors, religious beliefs, nature, time, place, and technology.”
One of these early works is on display at Adamson—a shower of resin and wire that telegraphs the promise of Yamaguchi’s more recent works but which is hampered by its overly monochromatic palette.
Yamaguchi’s more recent work—a series she calls “Cloud”—represents an improvement on this approach, seamlessly blending art with biology.
One piece, “Coming,” features two nodes linked by a long, thin connector—a virtual axon and dendrite, those carriers of electric impulses that power the human nervous system. Another, “UR #1,” is vaguely heart-shaped, lit by the warm, red glow of LED lights.
Yamaguchi’s pièce de résistance, however is titled, simply, “Cloud” (top and bottom). Up close, “Cloud” is an organic but orderly agglomeration of cast resin and wire. Viewed from a distance, however, its four distinct parts are harmonious, forming an utterly convincing cloud, palpable but evanescent.
“Once we get into the cloud, we become surrounded by humid air and find nothing,” Yamaguchi writes. Like the computing cloud, she sees her art as both “artificial” and “able to multiply endlessly.”
Yamaguchi’s work, more than most artists, pretty much nails what she set out to do.
Through June 14 at Adamson Gallery, 1515 14th St NW, Washington, D.C.
Interconnected: Science, Nature, and Technologies, April 11th – June 14th, 2014
Public opening reception: Friday, April 11, 2014, 6-8 PM
Adamson Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new multimedia installation pieces by Yuriko Yamaguchi. Like the clouds for which they are named, these ethereal but vital pieces are constructed from networks of steel, copper, and brass wire, which connect hand-cast resin representations of silicon molds made from organic materials. It is from this mixture of the natural and the unnatural: biology and technology; the visible and the invisible; the manual and the automatic; the web and the cloud, that the exhibition takes its main themes. As Yamaguchi says, “I found my purpose in creating works that remind people that we are all connected in many overlapping webs woven out of the common forces that affect the human condition: family origin, economic stressors, religious beliefs, nature, time, place, and technology.”
Yamaguchi likens her process to the “chance operations” of musician John Cage. For some pieces, she begins by drying cabbage leaves, peeled onion skins and sliced potatoes until they no longer resemble their former selves and are instead almost abstract objects that have taken on new, curved shapes: biological, but not natural. She then creates a silicon rubber mold and hand-casts pigmented resin in a range of colors, which she connects into modules until a substantial shape emerges. Other pieces make use of leaves, wax, and coral, all of which are recombined into new and unexpected shapes, colors, and forms. Yamaguchi states, “My work tells me what to do next. I just follow. This process is similar to the growth of an organism.”
It is certainly easy to view Yamaguchi’s exquisite sculptural works, sometimes studded with tiny LED lights, as transcendental organic bodies: the curvature of the resin shapes and the networked wires cast ghostly shadows on the walls and the ceilings upon which they are mounted and suspended. They bring to mind, as the artist intends, a technological rendition of nature; an otherworldly environment. At the same time, they also reference another interplay of technology and nature: the information cloud; a deliberate move on Yamaguchi’s part: “Both are artificial products and both are able to multiply endlessly; once we are determined to destroy them, they can be corrupted instantly. In today’s civilized society, we no longer can live without technology and artificial materials. We co-exist with them although we are part of nature.”
Yuriko Yamaguchi was born in Osaka Japan but has lived and worked in the United States since the early 1970s. Her work has been exhibited internationally and has been collected by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the National Museum of American Art. She is also on faculty of the Studio Art program at George Washington University. This is her second solo exhibition at Adamson Gallery.
For more information, please contact the gallery at (202) 232 0707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington Art Matters: 1940s–1980stells the story of art made here during five crucial decades. As such, this is the first major effort by a museum to present a comprehensive history, representing those times with works by some 80 artists. The exhibition is based on Washington Art Matters: Art Life in the Capital 1940-1990, a book published by the Washington Artists Museum and co-authored by Jean Lawlor Cohen, Benjamin Forgey, Sidney Lawrence and Elizabeth Tebow.