Kochi: Inside one dark room runs a lustrous little toy-train slowly and quietly casting images that change in size and shape across three walls and the ceiling to take the visitor down and up for a virtual ride that is appealing to the child, youth and the old alike.
Such is the fascination quotient of Ryota Kuwakubo’s work at the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) that many in the chamber exit after experiencing the journey more than once its stipulated cycle spanning a little over six minutes.
“This is excellent. I watched it again and again. Three times...I think,” gushes Adithya Menon, a class-8 student after coming out through one of the two doors—both curtained with black cloth. Adds his mother Priya Shyamkumar: “Only now I notice I have sweated a bit. It matters least.”
What the Japanese artist has done at KMB’s main Aspinwall House venue is simple. Tokyo-based Ryota’s kinetic sculpture, titled LOST # 12, has lined up along the rails of the toy-train a set of everyday commodities that he picked randomly though purposely from certain markets of Kochi.
When illuminated at close range by the moving train, they produce, what KMB’14 curator Jitish Kallat notes, “a mesmerising procession of shadows that rise and fall, rescaling the relationship of these objects to the viewer’s body.”
Thus short tumblers appear as high-rise buildings, inverted plastic clips used along clothesline look like electrical pillars with wires linking them, and stationary human-like moulds give the impression of passengers on the platform hurrying up to catch their compartment.
What’s more, there is a perforated vegetable basket with its round surface kept down—and the train permitted to pass through its slimly-cut entrance. As the automobile with a single-point light source nears it, the plastic object keeps gaining size. That sketches web-like shadows which spread across the wall first and then rambles up the ceiling before eventually petering out along the wall on the opposite side.
Down the trip, which is strikingly slow, there is another metal cage-like object with which Kyota repeats the magic but with a different kind of feel. Then, a minute or so later, the train takes a reverse journey at a faster pace. This permits the earlier-seen objects reappear in a different velocity, thus altering the cumulative effect vis-a-vis the downward trip.
“The two possible perspectives are for the viewer to experience,” notes 43-year-old Kyota, who is a multimedia artist is an alumnus of University of Tsukuba on the Japanese island of Honshu. “The objects are arranged in a way that the shadows they throw up remind a viewer of familiar images—a forest perhaps, or a tunnel or a cityscape,” he says. “Each viewer might perceive differently, drawing from his or her own personal experiences.”
The installation thus creates a self-reflective space, summoning a viewer’s conscious and subconscious recollections, adds Ryota, who KMB work is modelled on the lines of his 2010 installation called ‘The Tenth Sentiment’ which was exhibited at the Cyber Arts Japan exhibition hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.
Having studied also from International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences at Ogaki in Gifu Prefecture, Kyota believes that his KMB installation can connect two seemingly opposite visual experience—one of the digital realm and the other pure analogue.
For many at KMB’14, the experience of silence in Ryota’s work has made it a major talking point. The 108-day exhibition, which is on till March 29, has 100 main artworks by 94 artists across 30 countries.