Go Watanabe

light difference -face Ⅲ-

January 21 - February 25, 2017

Opening reception: Saturday, January 21th, 2017 18:00-20:00


URANO is delighted to present a solo exhibition "light difference - face III -," by artist Go Watanabe, on view January 21st through February 25th.


Go Watanabe (b. 1975, Hyogo) creates prints and animations with the images of human face and everyday objects around him such as tableware, books, and rooms. Watanabe make 3D files on which he superimposes the corresponding photographic image of the subject. Kyomen (kyo - border, men - face) as used for the exhibition's Japanese title, is a neologism that Watanabe developed as a term to explain a realm where objects are absent while the faces being present. In line with his last two exhibitions "face" (2007) and "lightedge - face II" (2011) at URANO, this exhibition focuses on light that changes in relation to time, material, and place.


Watanabe presented new animations for recent exhibitions and art festival including "Cosmic Travelers - Toward the Unknown" (Espace Louis Vuitton, Tokyo, 2012); "Carpe Diem. Seize the day" (Toyota Munincipal Museum of Art, Aichi); Aichi Triennale (2013). In 2013, the artist won the 24th Gotoh Memorial Award (Most Promising Talent Award) and traveled to Finland for a one-year research program offered by the Foundation. In the next year, he was selected as a finalist of the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize and exhibited works at the Singapore Art Museum. Watanabe also participated in a group exhibition "Logical Emotion: Contemporary Art from Japan" founded by Japan Foundation, which travelled to Switzerland, Poland and Germany. Those exhibitions mark his continuous participation in the international art world.


Together with 10 new works including prints and animations, this exhibition centers on a video installation titled 22 lights with books and floor (Library stacks at Aichi University of the arts) (2016), which was first presented at a group exhibition "Art Begins from the Forest" at Aichi University of Fine Arts and Music.


In today's society, a significant amount of information is continuously coming and going. Even essential information can be gone in seconds without our wish. This velocity of the information flow sometimes disables our thinking ability, and it would be no exaggeration to say that it could become a threat to life. Watanabe's work revisits kyomen (border; face) and decelerates the flow of time. This subtle energy inherent in his work enables us once again to pause and recognize what our eyes perceive.


Kosa (ko - light, sa - difference) used in the exhibition's Japanese title is a neologism I developed from jisa (time difference). In my context, it differs from the one used in the field of astronomy. Founded on the idea of the earth as unity, time difference refers to the difference in time between places in different time zone, which was divided according to distance from the sun. Similarly, founded on the idea of our landscape as a whole, light difference describes the variations of light that shapes landscape (=object). In other words, it is a changing state of lights in different time zone and with different intensity.


My practice explores the position and location of objects from where one's eyes perceive them. The Face series (2002-2009) call into question the position of face. While thinking if a face resides in the domain where one's gaze is directed (object position) or where we imagine (subject position), I proposed that it rather belongs to the border between those two domains, which I call "kyomen (kyo - border, men - face)." In works such as GH302 (2011) and The Tower of Books (2010) presented for the first time at "lightededge - face II -" (URANO in 2011), I applied this concept further to living space. My aim was to investigate the position of objects around us based on the subject's personal distance with them rather than actual physical one. For later works such as "one landscape," a journey (2011) presented at Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo and one places / on "the room" (2013) at Aichi Triennale 2013, I took a different approach to the concept of distance between oneself and objects, shifting my focus from an individual gaze to multiple gazes. Within this approach, I questioned and reconstructed the idea on "one landscape" that many gazes share.


Those works address the positional and distance relationships between objects and one's gaze or multiple gazes. This concept is founded on the fact that light plays a primary role in those relationships by enabling objects to be visible and one to create a relationship with them through gaze. This simply means that we can see objects because of light, and thus kyomen refers to this phenomenon that objects become visible by light or by absorbing light. This basic factor had already been my interest but has become the central concept in my recent practice. Light is a means of perceiving landscape while it is perception itself. Light, which shows landscape or otherwise is landscape itself comes not only from a single source, as assumed the Sun. In fact, light can be perceived around various places - for example, a lamp in a room, light on streets as well as illuminations such as a neon sign that has a symbolic meaning on their own. Headlight from a car that enters a room through the window and cuts through the space is also considered light. Brightness of my desktop screen while I am typing this is light as well, and such radiance from electronic devices are not only optical properties but also attributes that deliver information and let various relationships and influences sink in by connecting spaces. Landscape in our vision exists within polyphonic relationships of lights, each of which differs in number, condition and quality as the perception of landscape varies depending on viewers. The research on the simple factor that light enables one to see objects is about thinking how light shapes landscape that is before us.


Go Watanabe

  • "22 lights with books and floor" (Library stacks at Aichi University of the arts)

    22 lights with books and floor (Library stacks at Aichi University of the arts)

    2016 / 10 min. 48 sec. / Animation / *double channel