SITUATE / 1 August to 10 October 2017
PROJECT SPACE / 6 October to 16 November 2017 (Opening 5 October 5-7pm)
Rui MIzuki is a Kyoto-based artist who is the recipient of the 2017 SITUATE / Asialink / Tokyo Wondersite residency exchange. His project will explore Melbourne's urban environment through drawing and photography, with a particular focus on skate culture.
Rui Mizuki’s S-curve Spatial Photographs, Countering the Horizontality and Verticality of the Frame
What reference would you rely on if you were to hang a photograph level on a wall? Would you measure from the floor? Would you rely on a spirit level or a plumb bob? Would you rely on your eyes? The definition of “straight” differs depending on your choice. While our bodies all feel the verticality of gravity, this does not immediately translate to an understanding of the horizontal.
Many photographers will keep their cameras level when shooting. This is potentially due to the rectilinear shape of the viewfinder. Photographing at an angle, after all, would produce an unbalanced or tilted image. For Mizuki there is a different definition for “horizontality”. Mizuki thinks about this in terms of skateboarding, defining horizontality not as “horizontally level”, but rather as “that which does not generate movement.”
When you look at a skate park, it looks like a cylinder that has been cut and opened up. The floor, the wall and the ceiling are all connected through a continuous line. When skating this results in a bodily experience of gravity that is particular and multiplicitous. If a skateboarder is someone who freely moves across these curved surfaces, then perhaps it is natural for them to also have a unique kinetic and kinesthetic relationship to the visual.
Mizuki’s artworks lead us into a kinetic way of looking, which in turn changes our relationship to the spatial. By applying a digitally-stitched photograph onto a curved surface, he adds a fluidity to the visual experience. The curved forms protrude into the space, layering a sense of depth onto their photographic flatness.
Through his installation, Mizuki’s photographs physically emerge into the room. They are objects with a visible front and a back—they have thickness. The curve is fabricated from a mirror-finished bent aluminum sheet that has a photographic image printed on one side. This series is a provocation of “Mirror Behind Hole ‒ Photography into Sculpture”, the 2017 curatorial theme at gallery αМ. While these works could be considered photographs on aluminum board, they could also be described as sculptures composed of photographs and mirrors.
How does the structure of a sculpture and an image react with one another under such circumstances? How do the reflected surroundings and the photographs interweave? What reactions occur from the encounter with the convex and the concave surfaces, the photographs and the reflections? These questions can only be answered by being present in the exhibition which, through the addition of these works, becomes a spatially complex site. Even the photographic images Mizuki uses have a complexity to them, as they are composed of multiple perspectives stitched together and flattened into a two-dimensional form.
The subject of Mizuki’s lens in this project are the boxes used by skateboarders for practicing tricks. His photographs are flat composites of these objects, created through a stitching process that visually unwraps their damaged surfaces. These images are digitally constructed, cut out into patterns and physically actualized when printed onto the aluminum’s curved surface.
This process in some ways resembles a Cubist methodology; Mizuki creates a flat rectangular surface by combining several perspectives into a singular motif. However, this is a digital process and here the image is brought onto a curved surface and not a flat one—a shape that has no relation to the original material or perspective. In the finished work there is no trace of the subject, only the series of surfaces. It is a work whose image is not fixed, but rather whirls about in three dimensions.
The digital image is meant to be this way. It is a volatile thing that could be edited forever. It is only stabilized when it comes into existence; when it comes out of the monitor and is made physical. Digital photographic data is data that originates in and travels through virtual space. It is data freed from the horizontal and vertical axes of the actual, and as such it should not be confined by the horizontal and vertical framing of the material world when it is returned back to a field with gravity. Such a manner of framing is relevant only to the analogue—it is a memory of the old and familiar times of the camera obscura.
Mizuki also presents another series of artworks in the periphery and edges of this exhibition. These images are folded photographs bent around pillars and pressed into corners. Their bend allows the viewer to conceptually rebuild the original sculptural forms of the photographed subjects, which is, in this instance, cut fruit. By placing these two bodies of work next to one another, Mizuki uses elements of reflection, constructed digital imagery, material substance and actual space to subtly reveal the boundary between photography and sculpture.
Yuri Mitsuda, 2017
Written for the exhibition “Mirror Behind Hole ‒ Photography into Sculpture” by Rui Mizuki at gallery αМ, Tokyo; Translated by Rui Mizuki and edited by RMIT:ART:INTERSECT
This project is a collaboration between RMIT, Asialink and Tokyo Wonder Site and is supported by Creative Victoria.