top コラムExhibition ReportVol.22 Daisuke Yokota 横田大輔「multiplication」

Exhibition Report

Vol.22 Daisuke Yokota 横田大輔「multiplication」

John Sypal

This is what a 120 square meters of silver gelatin paper looks like. It’s quite impressive. The artist is Daisuke Yokota. The exhibition is Multiplication.  The venue is the wonderfully named “Nihombashi Anarchy Culture Center”,  located across the street from the renowned Mitsukoshi Department store. 


Yokota is a prodigious contemporary artist with sizeable following both in and outside Japan. His unique imagery, work which is collected in many sought-after artbooks, is the result of his creative destruction/subversion of craft- propriety.  Photographs are made, printed, re-copied, reversed, wrung through digital sensors and lenses Kodak Tri-X and back again through who knows what else. This multi-process-affected photographic work eschews the idea that any single image is either particularly precious or complete. 


This was actually the first Yokota exhibition I had ever visited- I say “exhibition” but Experience is more apt. 


The space is a former Nara Prefectural Goods shop. The current owners tore out everything but the lighting and some shelving along the walls. Visitors are first greeted by a box of disposable paper slippers.  This wasn’t the first exhibition I’ve been where I had to take off my shoes, but it was the first one where I was asked to walk onto the work.  


After somewhat successfully wedging my 33cm feet into the provided 20cm slippers, I stepped out onto the field of silver. There was something both gleefully subversive and, as a darkroom printer, slightly uncomfortable about this. Sure, the degree of this inner conflict will vary between visitors, but this engagement- physical, mental- is (obviously) part of the work’s meaning and Yokota’s challenge as to our expectations. I loved it.


The imagery on the floor is pure Yokota. Every square centimeter of it exists as his ghostly, soot-gray world of shifting contrast, crooked pixels and gnarled film grain-- a place of nebulous chemical spills, forests populated by flashed-out bodies and rooms of entangled, reticulated bodies. It’s never pure, abstract “noise”- - there is just enough in there for a human brain to search for items to recognize. Some may recognize glimpses of his previous subjects and images- the incorporation of this earlier work adds to the idea of multiplicity. It’s a monochromatic conundrum- a glorious puzzle with no answer or end. The incorporation of the unavoidable wear that visitors’ (slippered) feet contribute adds further dimension to its creation. In this sense it’s still a work in progress.


The physical aspect of the work is also fascinating. The piece- and this is one work of art- is comprised of six 30m rolls of Ilford fiber paper laid side by side. The gallery worker pointed out that the venue was only 20m deep- and that each roll had an additional 10m that were not able to be shown.  (It’s apparently for sale, too. Photo paper has gotten expensive, but its price would more than recoup the cost of materials…)


Before I left, the gallery worker also pointed to a small video camera attached to the ceiling. It records visitors as they walk across the expanse of the work- stills from which Yokota may incorporate into future projects.


Multiplication, indeed. 




いきなりですが、120平方メートルの銀塩印画紙を想像できますか? 実際、かなりのインパクトがあります。










来場者を最初に出迎えるのは使い捨ての紙スリッパの箱。 靴を脱がなければならない会場は初めてではありませんでしたが、作品の上を歩く展覧会は初めてでした。




















Daisuke Yokota 横田大輔




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