Aki Inomata uses her art to amply depict the anxieties of her time. Series like Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs? is an unerring commentary on the synthetic to downright ludicrous aspects of modern civilisation. Questions are often raised loud and clear. Somewhat ironically though, these very aspects of her art tend to harmonise instead of polarising views. For in the heart of heart, Aki carries the precious age old sentiments of her land that believes in life, in its every form and expression, to be sacred and reverential. Despite the wide usage of modern technology such as 3d modelling and printing, her art remains very close to nature and intends to be an interpretation of it.
Born and brought up in Tokyo, Aki may have been enclosed in an eternally expanding urban landscape all her life, but she knows where her inspiration lies. After all, she has been busy worldwide in solo and group exhibitions ever since the completion of her MFA in Intermedia Art from University of Tokyo (2008). In the process she showcased her art installations in places such as Hamburg, Linz, Paris, New York, Shanghai and of course at home in Tokyo. Such cultural exchanges only helped to expand her views. Her latest Hermit Crab series named White Chapel is testimony to that.
On the question of a distinguishable existence of man in respect to other living beings, ancient philosopher Zhuang Zhou narrated his experience, Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamed I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awoke, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things. When in the maze of modern living our ways seem to be hopelessly lost, then in art do we find solace. Because in art remains discreet the answers of such painfully pertinent questions that we continue to bury deep within us till we lose that crucial perspective about our own existence.
For ages artists are trying to arrest motion, capture the essence of it with due regard to the limitations of their tools at hand. It did receive further impetus with the introduction of photography. Even the very first generation of photographers like Étienne-Jules Marey’s (March 5, 1830 – May 21, 1904), Ottomar Anschütz (May 16, 1846 in Lissa – May 30, 1907), Eadweard Muybridge (April 9, 1830 – May 9, 1904) and Felix Nadar (April 6, 1820 – March 23, 1910) indulged in such passions in their own peculiar ways, often producing some very striking results. This was done even before filmmaking has begun. So far, in this regard, Stephanie Jung followed the footsteps of such illustrious names who went ahead of her. However, in doing so she did not fail to add her own deft touch. In urban landscapes of Berlin and Japan she found stories worth narrating and narrating in her own unique way.
Like any other art form, photography too has evolved in the past two years or so. Relentless experiments with this medium ensured that it ceases to be solely a tool for capturing realistic family portraits and develops into an art form in its own right. Experimental photographs are considered an objet d’art and artists like Michael Wesely find their long exposure images in the prized possession of MoMA. So for the young photographers like Stephanie Jung the key lies in stretching the limits, finding new vistas and exploring those to the fullest, both within and without. So far she used her talent effectively, capturing vivid imageries from life’s various chapters which bodes well for herself but even more importantly for her art. It is important to remember here what Felix Nadar said while summing up his thoughts about the art of photography,
According to Balzac’s theory, all physical bodies are made up entirely of layers of ghostlike images, an infinite number of leaflike skins laid on top of one another. Since Balzac believed man was incapable of making something material from an apparition – that is, creating something from nothing – he concluded that every time someone had his photograph taken, one of the spectral layers was removed from the body and transferred to the photograph. Repeated exposures entailed the unavoidable loss of subsequent ghostly layers, that is, the very essence of life.
Marsel van Oosten used photography as a way of injecting life into the hectic pace that he was living at. With a full time career in advertising with two gold lions at the prestigious International Advertising Festival, Cannes, France, against his name there was little time for him to think of anything else. A trip to Tanzania however changed a lot of things in Marsel’s life. In the close proximity of the wilderness the roar of lions and the laugh of hyenas felt like music to the ears. Life started charting a new route. Five years after this experience Marsel found the charm of his new love to be too overwhelming to ignore. He gladly switched his advertising career with his new identity, the wildlife photographer.
Marsel’s exploits from behind the camera lenses fetched him Nature Photographer of the Year in the International Photography Awards, 2005, 2006 and 2008, 2011, 2012, Nature Photographer’s Network Awards, 2012, European Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 2009 among many other noteworthy achievements. His biggest accomplishment however, was learning to listen closely the whispers of nature and observing into the depths of an animal’s eyes that have ‘the power to speak a great language.’
Born in 1966 Onomichi, Hiroshima, Japan, Motoi Yamamoto was busy working at the local dockyard till 1988. A tragic loss of his sister Yuko at her prime, who was then suffering from brain cancer, made Motoi not only realise the fragility of life but also wonder at its instability. He resorted to creating installations with salt, an element which is a symbol of purification in Japan and also a common environmental factor from his days at dockyard. Through returning the salt to the sea at the end of every show Motoi continues to pay respect to his departed sister till date.