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‘Plywood City Stories’ [2017–18]

UJINO

‘Plywood City Stories’

Outline

Six variously sized displays show images of a blender, a hairdryer, a microwave oven and other electrical home appliances, as well as remodeled electric guitars combined with such things as a windshield wiper. “Lives in Japan” contains footage of electrical devices that are individually filmed as they operate and produce sounds when switched on. The work is composed in a way that synchronized playback of that footage creates a dynamic concert of multiple devices playing mechanical rhythms. In “Radiowave Quarter,” multiple similarly recorded videos of short wave radios receiving broadcasts from different countries are again played synchronously, in an attempt to create a composition from elements in multiple languages.

“Plywood City Stories” is a series of video pieces shot in a documentary-like style of the artist’s monologue in English with a strong Japanese accent. Here he talks about the home appliances featured in “Lives in Japan,” about Japanese living environments in general, and about his own origins and family background.

UJINO has so far created works in which he arranged devices in actual physical spaces, but in the works shown at this exhibition, devices appear as recorded video images—a change that suggests the general shift from material objects to immaterial data in contemporary society. The displays have at once ironic and critical overtones in regard to the admiration of Western culture in postwar Japan, mass-consumption/mass-disposal society, and the Japanese people’s demand for imported culture.

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