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NAOKO TOSA’s Video Art

by Kazuo Amano, Toyota Municipal Museum of Art

Naoko Tosa has changed her ways of expression from film, video to computer graphics (CG). If her early activity of doing performance by herself is took into consideration, her whole career is almost identical to the history of media art itself starting from low-tech approaching toward high-tech.

Most of her video artworks are combinations of CG based images and also actual video images with various video effects. One of the characteristics of her video artworks is that they have physical body. Basically media art does not have strong connection to a specific material which is a significant difference from conventional fine art. Media art can be visualized on computer displays and various printing materials. This means that media art is something apart from actual materials and in other words is something floating. In networked and digital world we as subjective become something not clearly identified. The border between us and the world becomes unclear and our identity would flow out and would be mixed with digitized outside world.

On the other hand in her video artworks she uses various physical materials such as eyes, Buddhism statues, etc. and introduces metamorphosis effects on these materials. By doing this she has succeeded in creating strong tension on the synthesized images and in giving strong impression of physicality to viewers.

Also she has tried collaborations with performers, musicians, etc. Also she uses physical body such as that of performers as an element of her artworks. In her video artworks she does not tries to dismantle physical body but tries to maintain its reality sometimes by introducing stories.

Usually various entities expressed using CG do not have any individuality nor insistence. On the other hand her video artworks are very special in media art as her artworks have strong sense of physicality. By keeping this physicality it would become easier for images in media art to give us strong inspiration. However video images should have strong stimulation comparable to that induced by drug if images in video art are to be linked to our brain.

One possibility to realize this would be to introduce interactivity into media art. Probably the direction she went through after her activities in video art came from this basic motivation.

Kazuo Amano

Media art

Understanding our Time better The Arts of NAOKO TOSA

by Oliver Grau

At the forefront in the artistic exploration and creation of our latest communication technologies, NAOKO TOSA holds since years a leading position: From her 90s Video Art – powerful reflections on our media fragmented bodies – via her cutting-edge research on emotional & interactive imagery and speech recognition “Neuro Baby” or “MUSE”, the interactive poetry machine and more.

But the approach she developed during the last decade goes beyond that and became unique: Nothing less than the amalgamation of traditional Japanese culture, like Zen, Kabuki, Manzai or Sensui with the digital realm is the goal of the Kyoto based Professor. There are other avantgarde artists nowadays exploring our art and media history, enabling us to better understand the rapid development of our time. These artists, like Jeffrey SHAW, Olafur ELIASSON, William KENTRIDGE of Zoe BELLOF, who belong to the world’s known artists of our time; and TOSAS Ouevre has become an outstanding element in this “wind in the sails of world history”, to use an old expression of Walter BENJAMIN. Her “Interactive Zen Garden” makes us reflect on the comparison of Digital Culture with our traditions, so that conscious ZEN practice of meditation reappears in contemporary culture. Her discourse between history, tradition and technology has now even driven the historical panorama into an unheard dimension. Large impressive-immersive pavilions have a history at World Fairs going back at least to Paris 1900, always showing the latest image technology in emotionally involving scenography, but Tosa’s gigantic environment “Under Water Sansui with Four Gods” expands this lineage to World EXPO 2012 with a gigantic 250m long landscape wall-panorama – of more than 20m high projections of dynamic Sansui ink paintings. She allows us to walk under enormous flying dragons, which dominate the image space provided by the largest LED display, two and a half football fields long – the largest moving images in mankind so far! The technical sublime, discussed in aesthetic debates around the world has a new, and one of its strongest, expressions. This is so far the peak in Tosa’s amalgamation of innovation PLUS tradition, a technical innovation with knowledge, taste, heart and deep connections with our intercultural histories.

 

Oliver Grau

Photography Art

Software art

Sculpture & Scroll