[ISEA2002] Essay: Bruce Mowson — ISEA Nagoya: hi-tech, low output


This article from RealTime 53, 2002, is reproduced with the permission of the writer and of the publisher RealTime www.realtime.org.au

ISEA2002 was held in Nagoya, a regional centre 2 hours south of Tokyo. The official theme, Orai, loosely means traffic — comings and goings, contract and communication — and participants were encouraged to respond to this. The symposium’s program, which included exhibitions, academic presentations and performances, was located around a small harbour. Once the official port, it has been re-zoned as a public space, including an aquarium, small museums and a park. About 100 academic presentations were given across 4 days, and 57 installations were housed in 2 huge, disused shipping warehouses.

Kaoru Motomiya’s California lemon sings a song was a highlight of the exhibition. Lemons joined by wires to digital chips produced simple melodies generated by electrical currents from the fruit acid. The audience must kneel, remove the lids from coin-sized boxes on the floor and put their ears almost to the ground to hear the work. First installed at the Headland Arts Centre, California, the piece was made in the shape of a missile, at 1:1 scale, using the same number of lemons as people and dogs who worked in an adjoining former missile base. The missile was pointed at Japan, where the lemons were to be exported. In Japan this work built upon the strong atmosphere of the abandoned warehouses in which the exhibition was held.

  • Bruce Mowson writes for RealTime, Australia

Bruce Mowson travelled to ISEA2002 courtesy of an Australia Council RUN_WAY grant.

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