2004 Kai Ozawa

In between Light and Darkness

 There is an installation by Motoi Yamamoto in which a prow-like structure appears to be embarking into the gallery space - Unfulfilled.
 In another installation, sheer darkness from the depths of a narrow corridor made by salt opens its mouth towards the viewer. - a corridor to remembrance.
 Many of Motoi Yamamotoユs installations appeal to our visual as well as physical faculties. The darkness, which exists in the sheer volume of salt, a material shared by creatures from ancient times to the present, seems to evoke a desire as well as a physical reaction to know what lies in or beyond the shadow; yet it also represents a hint of the sublime in which the viewer might experience an inability to think discursively.

 It is not an exaggeration to say that we are living in a society and era described as late modernity or a still-modernizing world. Modernization is understood as enlightening society with the light of civilization. This could mean that light has eluded all unexpectable or uncontrollable social elements to the degree that humans hold a complete hegemony over these aspects.
 However, there still exist aspects which humans cannot cope with by themselves. Amongst these, there is the notion of death. It is a simple phenomenon that happens inevitably and equally to every single person and deprives them of ever accumulating knowledge, human relationships, property or honor. Humans in modern society are inclined to try to control and keep death away from everyday life, regardless of the fact that they fundamentally do not posses any power of control over it. This may be recognized in that the very notion of death is arbitrarily manipulated, sanctioned and isolated by the medical establishment or health policies of society.
 Modernized society seems to neglect this shared inevitability, overshadowed by a civilizing light.

 In such a social situation, Yamamoto constantly holds his gaze towards the shadow. He started sensing its existence when his younger sister died of a disease some years ago. Since then, he has been increasingly aware of what he lost and begun to trace the memories around the event. In this process, his consciousness towards the shadow was awakened and he came to conceive of it as a realm which his rational knowledge cannot reach.
 To think of memory in general, I am often reminded of what Chihiro Minato remarked. That is, memory is not tied to a definitive point in the past; rather it is constantly produced and rewritten in relation to a subject's present positions. Memory indeed resides in oneユs will in the present to remember events in the past. If this notion sounds credible, it could be said that the shadow in Yamamotoユs works could be seen as a window connecting to and reflecting both a will to remember particular events and causes particular states of mind through a constant casting towards his present conditions, as well as a limit in terms of perception and physicality engendered in this process. The darkness transforming and becoming darker or brighter depending on installations is nothing other than his will to recall the past. This practice echoes the possibility to open himself up to a process of constant- becoming of memory as process, a work as act and indeed his life.

Kai Ozawa