Sep. 24, 1996 Oct. 15, 1996

Art Watch Index - Oct. 1, 1996

Gabriel Orozco Exhibition @ICA
The Truth About Nomadism?
Yoshitaka MOURI
Kazuhiko HACHIYA's Ars Electronica Report
Kazuhiko HACHIYA

Art Watch Back Number Index

Gabriel Orozco @ICA
July 26-September 22, 1996
ICA, London
Tel. 0171-930-3647

Gabriel Orozco Reference Page

The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London

The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)

Gabriel Orozco Exhibition @ICA
The Truth About Nomadism?

Yoshitaka MOURI

The mischief of re-writing the city

During the summer, not many changes happen in the art scene of London . In fact, schedules of art exhibitions show that most galleries and art museums are taking a short break to get ready for autumn. Amidst such a state, an exhibition that stands out in particular is the Gabriel Orozco exhibition held at the ICA.

The style of Gabriel Orozco is often introduced as minimalism, but the impression received from this exhibition is like a mischief full of humor, re-writing the "city" from a different perspective.

Take, for example, his works devoted to the first floor of the gallery---the middle part of an old Citroen DS is cut out, bringing the left and the right side closer together to make a rocket-like Citroen for one passenger, 4 bicycles are re-assembled in a beautiful rectangular shape, and there is a black spherical object of rubber that weighs just as much as Orozco. The installation of photographs lined in the hallway, is pictures of 2 yellow scooters parked next to each other in Berlin. According to the explanation, this is a series in which one of the two yellow scooters is Orozco's own scooter that he rode in Berlin, and the other is a yellow scooter same as his that he found in the streets of Berlin. Everytime Orozco found a yellow scooter, he parked his next to it and took a picture. These works use common objects in the city, and they apparently seem to be natural existences in the city, but when carefully observed, they create a strange and distorted time and space, borne by the fact that the artist himself, does not belong to the city after all.

To think as an "immigrant"

Orozco is originally from Mexico. Recently, he travels around Madrid, Berlin, and New York, working on his art. The Citroen and the rubber object that looks like a tire, are a self-portrait, but not necessarily indispensable and beneficial objects to the city. However, despite that, these are too aesthetic to throw away as pure garbage, and have certain meanings.

Of course, some critics call this kind of positioning of oneself in the city, nomadism, but in a recent interview, Orozco said, "A nomad is too glamorous an expression and I am just an immigrant". Nevertheless, the works of Orozco displayed at ICA are given a meaning that can be called nothing else but nomadism. Then, what if nomadism functions as an aesthetic form of the immigrant? What if there is a possibility that in a certain context, works by Orozco turn into garbage thrown out from the city? What this exhibition makes us think is that, Orozco may be trying to reconsider his activities which were interpreted as "nomadism", as an "immigrant". Is it too farfetched to think that actually, this is related to the recent reactionary immigration policies of Europe which have started to become intolerant towards "nomadism"?

[Yoshitaka MOURI/Cultural Studies]

toBottom toTop

Ars Electronica Festival

September 2-6, 1996
Ars Electronica Center
(Linz, Austria)


Masaki Fujihata Lab Home Page


Ars Electronica Festival 96 -CAVE Virtual Reality

NTT / InterCommunicationCenter

Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau

ARTEC'95 Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau

Survival Research Laboratories


Maywa Denki Home Page

Opera of the Future - Tod Machover

Silicon Graphics: SILICON SURF

Kazuhiko HACHIYA's
One Week at the Ars Electronica
nmp Net Gallery

Kazuhiko HACHIYA's
Ars Electronica Report

Kazuhiko HACHIYA

This year's Ars Electronica Festival was held over five days, from September 2 to 6, due to the completion of the Ars Electronica Center. I went to this festival with an invitation given to me for my prize-winning Inter Dis-communication Machine, which received an award in the Interactive Art Category in the Open Entry Section of the PRIX96. Although no prize money was awarded, I was provided travel and accommodation (The grand prize in this category was given to Masaki FUJIHATA). First of all, at the opening ceremony held on the 2nd, the mayor attended the reception, and we could feel the enthusiasm of the city of Linz. It seemed a vast number of multi-media related people were present, making it hard even to move in the crowd. The center was completed this year, but the size is not so huge, and I received an impression of it being quite cosy. Inside, there were the Tele-Garden and the CAVE System (apparently they will also have NTT-ICC soon). Outside the CAVE site, two ONYX machines were displayed, and the display which tried to demonstrate that they were making full use of computer power, was quite amusing. It probably cost about 300 million yen just for those facilities. However, the CAVE seemed to stop time to time with some trouble. They also had the exhibit by Crista Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau. Most of the computers must have been SGI, and the investment must have been huge. However, there is some doubt as to whether the content matched the amount of investment - to put it more clearly, there were many which were uninteresting, and since the explanations were in German only, I could not understand very well. Also, because it was the first day, there were many technical troubles. I would like to add that if one pursues only fun and impressive technology, the Mario computer game on the NINTENDO 64 costing 30,000 yen and which can be enjoyed at home, is several times more superior. Still, the easy-going atmosphere where people would say to us, "Hope you'll all come back again", was rather wonderful.

In the evening, there was an event called the SKY FEAST FOR LINZ involving fireworks, dance, costume, and slide show. This was held outside, even stopping the municipal trains, and despite the rain and cold weather, there were many visitors. The fireworks were not the launching type, but the ones you hold in your hand, and the dance was based on the old folk tales of Linz (probably). I somehow felt that the perfection of technology in things like the dance and the firecrackers were much more wonderful. After the event ended, it was quite touching to see one of the girl staff becoming emotional and crying with her boyfriend's arm around her shoulder.

There was much say that this year's installations were not good, and they actually were not so good. The display of the Installation Category was inside an old museum. As I thought, Fujihata's work had high quality, and the content was also accomlished. The others were cheap, unkind, or not working, and they were not up to the expectation. However, the works displayed outside of the museum were quite interesting. For example, an MMM, or rather, a technocratic installation which had an old style but was quite interesting called NO MANS LAND, was exhibited in the basement parking lot, and the installation in the suburban factory area called VOEST, had a second-hand clothes shop and bar just like an SRL version of a school fair (chuckle). Since it was so cold, I bought a jacket at \3,000. Among the installations, my favorite was one in which a fireball moved sideways at furious speed. In the Design Center (an exhibition site similar to Makuhari Messe and Tokyo Big Sight), the Grand Prize winner of the WEB Category, etoy, had an installation. The group members all wore orange jackets, and tear-drop shaped sunglasses, and had skin head hair style, looking like Neo Nazis and causing a bit of a scandal, but in truth, they seemed to be quite nice; they looked like delinquent punks, but they were fun to talk to (their web site can be viewed at By the way, the Inter Dis-communication Machine was also displayed here, and it seemed it was received well. Several people said it was the best installation of this year. Some also asked "What kind of computer does this use?" Personally, seeing a person in a wheelchair experiencing and enjoying the machine (later I found out that he was a judge for the Web Site Category), was a precious experience.

Actually, there were symposiums and other events also organized, but since this year, I had gone as an artist, I had to attend my work, and I could not see most of the events. Especially in the symposium, the theme for this year was MEMESIS, and because Dr. Richard Dawkins was participating, the discussion seemed to be heated. However, we will probably be able to read about this in someone else's report.

As a general comment, I was impressed that Ars Electronica was quite a big event (I had thought it would be of the level of Nagoya's ARTEC), but at the same time, I could not feel the same impact from the works as I felt when I saw the works of Technocrat, Meiwa Denki, and Kenji Yanobe (except etoy). I thought that there must be even more superior artists in the world, or that the Japanese artists should enter their works more. Also, seeing the low level of the CAVE System and Tod Machover's Brain Opera which was introduced with a fanfare, I felt as if I saw the limits of this kind of technology art. The risk of technology art is that it becomes something that only stirs feelings like "So what?" From the viewpoint of the artist, I can only say that we must carefully avoid that. One thing I thought was that works led by technology were more prone to fall into the "so what?" syndrome. Maybe that is because personally, I received a strong impression that the contents of those which used advanced technology (especially those using something like SGI's computer: Indy) were banal. I also felt that maybe, the age of the individual using the computer at full power, has ended.

[Kazuhiko HACHIYA/Artist]

toBottom toTop

Art Watch Back Number Index

Sep. 24, 1996 Oct. 15, 1996

[home]/[Art Information]/[Column]

Copyright (c) Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. 1996
Network Museum & Magazine Project /