Kinza | Naoshima

Kinza is the former name of the abandoned house turned Art House Project on Naoshima Island where it now houses the artwork Being given by Japanese artist Rei NAITO. This was perhaps the standout work for me of the experiences I had on Naoshima. Visitors to the artwork must make a prior booking as the experience is scheduled, one person at a time. The Kinza building, like many of the Art Houses in the Benesse Art Sites, seems unassuming from the outside, a normal village house. Inside however, the space has been returned to the earth, the floor reconnecting with the soil beneath the house. The only light entering the space is from the under the outside walls and from the interior, it gives the whole structure a feeling of levitation. Within lies a large round ring, also raised from the ground. The whole space gradually reveals small details laid out in some form of geomantic logic. Small transparent spheres and rings, a staff rigidly perpendicular to the ground, tiny details whose presence is highlighted by the bleeding light outside, and only revealed through time, through contemplation. Above, between two of the wooden beams supporting the ceiling, a large glass cylinder floats — mystically like depictions of The Ascension. The space is at once meditative in solitude and wonder, and also with connection to the outside world through light and sound, the street noise bleeds in as does the light, in a subdued way that is part of the space, part of what is being given.

There are rarely moments with an artwork that remain with you, that remain connected, somehow unresolved yet mystical and reaffirming. Kinza has tunneled a place of nostalgia in my memory, its ambiguity and comfort make it an unforgettable moment.

Rei Naito"Being given", 2001 Art House Project "Kinza"

Rei Naito"Being given”, 2001 Art House Project “Kinza” 

Quiet Objects and Loud History | Nagasaki & Hiroshima


The bones of a hand in glass
Found near the hypocenter. The bones of a human hand are stuck to a clump of glass that melted as a result of exposure to the extreme heat | Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.

There are impossible things to say. The object above, along with this matter of fact description, stood quietly, alone in an unassuming cabinet in the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. I watched as people easily missed it and looked at more confronting images of burnt bodies and of the devastated clearing that Nagasaki had become. In its understated horror, this object for me, spoke so much more.

It is difficult to understand those days in which the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I went to these two cities with little expectation that I would come away with my own understanding of those events. Over the last week I visited the Peace Memorials, Museums, parks and halls of both those cities, waiting to see how the Japanese had reconciled that history.

The museums present information about the seconds after the atomic explosions, information documented by both the Americans and the Japanese who were keen to understand the effects of this new type of bomb. Studies continue today into the effects of the explosions and the exposure of radiation. Survivors are still presenting to doctors with glass shards working their way out of their bodies. The sheer physics of the event is only understood through the objects presented and the personal stories of the survivors, both devastating.

The results are that both cities are now committed to peace and the abolition of all nuclear weapons.



Air Samples | Consecrated Spaces

Part of my research in Japan has been to capture and map space, namely conceptualising air. Air as a material but also as a metaphor for something immaterial; energy or spirit. Japanese Shinto conceptualises many forms of the ‘unseen’ through Kami (神). I read Kami as an energetic and immaterial force and it seems broad enough to incorporate ancestor worship, nature spirits, animism and even aspects of Buddhism. Ritual processes often materialise concepts of the invisible by connecting them to our bodies and senses.

Outwardly looking in

In retrospect I think this photographic style, voyeuristic and distanced, says more about me than the subjects.

Kabuki | Minami-za

Christmas day, I treat myself to experience 4 acts of kabuki theatre at the traditional theatre Minai-za in Kyoto.  The 4 acts totalling almost 5 hours are indeed an endurance towards the end of the final act, especially with absent Japanese language. Each act was taken from a different play, the results of which were slightly confusing, but the set design and costumes were a wonderful spectacle.

The wooden panels on the outside of the theatre pictured below show the names of each kabuki performer for the season. The signage is the result of a month long residency by a master calligrapher, made possible by the Myoudenji temple. This annual residency is a centuries old tradition and the calligraphic style, kantei-ryu, is only used for kabuki actor’s names. The tightly packed black with almost no white space, is meant to bring luck and a packed house for the event. I was told that the ink has sake added to it to produce glossiness and that the master was now in his seventies and had started his apprenticeship at the age of fifteen. The sense of history and tradition in Japan is a stark contrast to the youth of colonial Australia.


Minami-za theatre, Kyoto

Minami-za theatre, Kyoto


Bento lunch





Flea Market | Kitano Kenman-Gu Shrine

Christmas Day, first thing, I go to the shrine at Kitano Kenman-Gu where they have a monthly flea market. I get there just before 9am as the stallholders are still setting up. The Japanese seem to prefer later morning starts so I wandered around the buildings at the shrine. Many people were making a morning prayer before proceeding into the the bustle of the market on the outer edges of the shrine complex.

The markets, once they got going, were busy with old and new wares, and food vendor of all sorts, incense, kimono, sweets, spices and all things pickled.


Open Studio: Air Studies | Kyoto Art Center

Two months since arriving in Japan I have opened my studio to the public and presented work in progress to date. With the invaluable help of Yuki my translator, I hope that some of my time here became a little more coherent to my Japanese colleagues, and hopefully to myself. Yuki’s translations left me inwardly grinning as they seemed to range far beyond any equivalent word count to my english. Yuki later told me that she was known for her enthusiastic style of translation, I felt lucky to have had the opportunity.


Artist Talk
Date:December 20, 2014[Sat]17:00~18:00
Open Studio
December 20, 2014[Sat]- December 26, 2014[Fri]10:00~20:00
Kyoto Art Center Studio 4




Open Studio Room Guide | Kyoto Art Center

Open Studio | Kyoto Art Center

Air Renders | 3D Mapping

Progressing towards more experimentation with mapping air, I have been testing the 3D scanner on some of these inflated and suspended objects. Ideally the object to be scanned should not be highly reflective or translucent. The golden ‘space blanket’ fails on both counts but the results were still useable. The initial scanning results, with a bit of mesh patching, can be seen below. The 3D model below is of the pictured object. The image is work in progress of an installation for an Open Studio to the public. The installation included a projection of the rendered 3D model taken from the interior golden object. The video can be seen below.


The video below is a rendering of the above scanned object. Referencing the ‘dry landscape’ gardens (karesansui 枯山水) found in many zen Buddhist temples throughout Japan. This was projected onto the windows of my second story studio space, and best viewed from the building’s exterior.
At the time this work was being produced, the spaceprobe Rosetta was making a rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P) and along with its lander module Philae, was producing mapped images of the surface of the comet. These images of the comet, along with the stone garden at Ryōan-ji, Kyoto, work as inspiration for the work.