“unsre Freuden, unsre Leiden, alles eines Irrlichts Spiel!”
(Our joys and sorrows are no more real
Than this teasing phantom light)
From part 9, “Irrlicht”( Will O’ the Wisp) of Wilhelm Muller's “Winterreise”
Contemporary art forms have focused on achieving self-formation, endlessly striving after a complete existence. They have believed in the unique characteristics of people’s selves, and stubbornly rejected the encroachment of others upon them. This concept of “I” has continued to expand without limit, with illusions and real existence becoming intricately involved, making the very boundary between oneself and others difficult to pinpoint.
The contemporary art world of the 1970’s was dominated by conceptual art focused on facing one’s inner self. This era came to a close with the 1980’s, where outgoing expressions such as installations and performances became commonplace. Many up-and-coming female artists were introduced in art magazines, who exhibited an easy-going spirit that was unrestricted by formalities. At this time, Hitomi Uchikura drew attention as one of the driving forces behind a new artistic trend.
Uchikura’s works at the time were composed of irregularly cut cardboard and plastic sheets, covered with large strokes of clear colors. These were arranged dynamically in the exhibition space. This showed an overwhelming desire for self-definition by producing works different to that of other people.
Uchikura was completely immersed in the uninterrupted exhibition. However at one point, she began to doubt whether her activities were really being perceived by the world. Although her works were popular because of a temporary trend, they were not truly original products of her own. She decided that until she could find the answer to this question, and also eventually the primal scene of her mind, she would take a good look at herself.
Uchikura started drawing a picture diary, two hours a day, for about two and a half years. This was a time of “deconstruction” for her, to undermine the basis of all that she had built up until that time. Using all kinds of techniques, she tried drawing all the forms that came to her mind. However, one day she was unable to draw anymore.
She had output all that she could, and it seemed that must be the end of her days as an artist. After releasing all that she had been holding on to, she cried from the bottom of her heart. It was at this time that a kind of fluffy mass appeared to her. Since it was transparent, she could not see it directly, but she could see its boundaries reflecting the light. Although she had never seen it before, it felt somehow nostalgic. This form was an existence that she was always aware of, somewhere in her heart.
Her “Non-titled” work released in 1995 was a landscape in black. Since a yellow circle was also painted three-dimensionally above a panel with an organic form, it also looked like some kind of amoeba. It was uncertain whether the landscape was reflected onto the form, or whether the world itself was included in the form. The eyes of the viewer were made to go back and forth between the inside and outside of the floating object.
Not long after, this mass became a real three-dimensional object. In “Brilliant Cell”, a leather material was firmly attached to the outside. Holes were opened in several locations on the surface, and convex lenses were inserted into them. If one takes a look through one of the lenses, they will see that small pieces of mirror have been attached to the whole surface of the inner wall. The outside scenery that shines through the lens is diffusely reflected on the inside to create a brilliant light almost like a kaleidoscope.
Our minds are full with scenery and events that we have come across in the past. These memories are intricately woven by our brain synapses, and then sent outside of us again via our words and actions. What we send out becomes light and shadow in somebody else’s mind. It is in this way that memories are propagated from person to person throughout eternity. The destination Uchikura reached while trying to make something original of her own was the versatile form of herself opened up to the outside world.
With the release of “Lumière” in 2006, Uchikura’s creative activities were deepened further. This work involved the addition of an infinite number of circular indentations to the surface of paper. These depressions in the paper caught the light to produce a soft shadow in each bump. What was visualized as a result, was a mysterious and magical world of monochrome.
Up until now, Uchikura had experimented with various types of expression via her creative activities. The yellow splotch and the shining glass were works that directly conveyed a visual effect to the eye. However, the only work that Uchikura did with Lumière was to endlessly add circular indentations to the surface of paper. The spectacle of light and dark that was visualized on the surface was all caused by rays of light, without her taking any part.
Uchikura said that one woman standing in front of Lumière was heard to mutter “I feel relieved.” We can only assume that she had been holding something in her heart. Maybe when she stood in front of Lumière, her mind reached that shadow in her heart. All that you have to do with the hand you are holding on to, is to gently loosen your grip. At that time, you will finally be able to find its true form. The only thing there, is the pure white boundary outlining it.
Translated by Christian Johns