[ISEA94] Curator Statement: Toshio Iwai – A Retrospective

Curator Statement

During ISEA’94, the Gallery Otso in Espoo organizes a retrospective of Toshio lwai’s works from 1982-1994.

Toshio Iwai’s early works deal with the prehistory of cinema, while the large interactive installations of the mid-80’s connect Iwai to the cutting edge to image processing and interface design.

“A key to the world of Toshio lwai is provided by the title of a Japanese television program about his work, Another evolution of the moving image. While pinpointing the central theme of Iwai’s oeuvre – his playful yet insightful rethinking of the history of audiovisuality – the title also suggests the possibility that there are several histories of the moving image –. This history  proceeds choronologically from, say, zoetropes, flipbooks and Marey’s and Muybridge’s
chronophotographs to the classical film apparatus, then to broadcast television and finally to electronic and digital systems – video, synthetic computer animation, video games and interactive movies. Abandoning linear and chronological logic, Iwai’s approach emphasizes constant recycling and playful tinkering with technology. He simultaneously adopts the roles of the excentric inventor (a la Tesla), the magician (a la Méliès), the savant historian of the audiovisuality and the contemporary media art hero“.1) Toshio lwai refers to his dreams as a source of inspiration: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a painting or an object in front of you begins to move like an animation on the spot, unlike images projected on the screen or TV monitor?… I wish I could go into the animated space I made myself”.2) According to the Japanese critic Yoshitomo Morioka, lwai’s works represent the
algorithmic image: “..if one phrase is to be chosen from among those characterizing them, be represented by the term Algorithmic Image, which, in turn, constitues a concept impossible to ignore in obtaining a better understanding of the substance of our contemporary media environment and computer technology”.3)

1 Erkki Huhtamo, Excavating media dreams, Looking for a Context for Toshio lwai’s art, in the catalogue Toshio lwai, Espoo, Finland, 1994.
2 Statement in the poster for Iwai’s exhibition ‘Machine for trinity, Mitsubishi-Jisho Artium Gallery, Japan, 1990.
3 Yoshitomo Morioka, Between Magic and Algorithmic Image, in the catalogue Toshio lwai, Espoo, Finland, 1994.

  • Toshio Iwai is a Japanese interactive media and installation artist