The purpose of this study is to investigate the mode of visual communication in the electronically networked society, referring to the works of two artists: Ilya KABAKOV (1933-) from Russia, and MIYAMAE Masaki (1957-2000) from Japan. While not directly related to Media Art or Electronic Art, there is commonness between their visual images and cyberspace.
The ARPAnet, which is the original Internet, was put into action in the end of the 1960s. Since the first node for that computer network was set in UCLA, the net grew rapidly during the 70s. We can say that the electronic network age began at that time. In the art scene of those days, we know well the “Art & Technology” movement. And it was also during the early 70s, before Perestroika in the USSR, that KABAKOV produced and performed a series of works he called “Album”. “Album” was a stack of thick cardboards displaying drawings and text, performed by showing one by one while reading the text before a small audience. I only point out a few aspects about “Album.” KABAKOV used a flat material as a support to make “Album.” Each flat cardboard is an independent artwork without bound, but the artist says that he can also imagine another scenes, which precede or follow it. This means that there exists a story in “Album”, and the story progresses as the artist shows the drawings. It is not to say that his works are visual, but we can recognize that the text supplements or excludes the visual expression.
Kamishibai and “Album”
I introduce Kamishibai, which MIYAMAE, a Japanese artist, used late in his life. Kamishibai is a medium specific to Japan, in which a story is read dramatically while a series of pictures illustrate its scenes. We can find its origin in “Genji Monogatari Emaki”, which illustrates the early 11th century Japanese classic roman “Genji Monogatari.” After a long history, Kamishibai was established as a medium in the early Showa Era, around 1930, and it was used a sort of spectacle to sell candies and cookies to the children on the street. I notice the similarity between Kamishibai and KABAKOV’s “Album”. First, both are composed of independent drawings, which combine to make a story. So the story progresses by showing drawings one by one. Secondary, both use not only visual expression but also text.
- Kiyofumi Motoyama, Japan
Full text (PDF)