Yutaka Kikutake Gallery is pleased to present “critical plane,” an exhibition of latest works by artist duo Nerhol from October 30 to November 27, 2021. In addition to their recent series of on-going works featuring subjects from historical documentary footage and scenes within everyday life, the exhibition introduces some of the duo’s new and unprecedented endeavors such as “carve out” based on Eadward Muybridge’s sequential photographic studies of motion, the sculptural work “cut down” made from stone paper, and “fumbling” produced by engraving into pieces of film within the space of the darkroom.
Nerhol, composed of artists Ryuta Iida and Yoshihisa Tanaka, have continued to produce a highly distinct oeuvre that moves away from conventional definitions of photography and sculpture as realized by means of the extensive dialogues culminated between them throughout the course of their collaboration. The trajectory of their practice, as that which constantly gives rise to a new manner of works that are bound to neither photography nor sculpture, could indeed be described as having emerged as a “critical plane” of sorts.
In recent years they have also gained the opportunity to reflect on their own works and the nature of their practice through engaging in various dialogues with physicists and ecologists. Nerhol’s works are conceived as a result of a simultaneous process by which Tanaka aims towards the conception of the two-dimensional, while Iida brings his focus to the three-dimensional. As such, it is for instance possible to observe similarities between their artistic efforts and fractal structures in which particles, despite the limitations of their area density, are in a constant state of motion the moment the N poles and S poles exceed their respective attributes.
Through their works Nerhol have shed light on the ways in which various phenomena within our daily lives intersect with one another while each permeating with a rich sense of individuality. Their new series of works presented on this occasion illustrate their attempt to further bring the elements explored in their previous works to the fore.
“carve out” reflects an interest towards the human body and its temporality through references to art historical discourse, while “cut down” presents Nerhol’s sculptural approach to images in a more purely sculptural manner. In “fumbling,” produced by exposing negative film that has been carved into within the darkroom, the process by which images are handled are reversed from their standard matter of course. In each of these works, one’s daily thoughts and musings are respectively transcribed into various physical acts.
The arrows moving around here represent the instantaneous velocity of each particle when a group of spherical particles (reminiscent of grains of sand or balls for instance) are in motion. Should the particles be closely packed together at a high level of density, it could cause congestion, as they are unable to move fluidly. However, as if to resolve this congestion themselves, they start to create a curious flow of movement freely to their own accord, as shown in this video. Having said that, this flow is generated purely according to the laws of physics, and thus is a motion that indeed should be elucidated through physics.
Those who are familiar with Nerhol’s work may feel somewhat at odds, and at the same time experience a strong sense of déjà vu. While it is possible to recognize clear ties to the streamlines that are an essential element of their work, the respective patterns perhaps do not coincide in some important sense. For example, while Nerhol's works are three-dimensional expression due to the depth of their carvings, the flow here is entirely two-dimensional. In contrast to Nerhol’s work, in which time is frozen in the direction of their depth and develops in correspondence to the act of carving, the time in the video simply flows in a flat and unvarying manner.
Nevertheless, as a scientist, I would like to take a moment to actively consider what the two have in common. Although the movement of individual particles is self-organized to efficiently facilitate the overall flow, is it possible to efficiently retrieve information distributed along the time axis (as is the case with Nerhol's work) if we follow that motion? Or is it necessary to carve in such a flow in order to extract information in the direction of the time axis, as various movements in the natural world more or less appear to share this kind of flow? What lies in the backdrop of Nerhol’s work are that which could be regarded as fundamental principles of nature, and I cannot help but feel that it is possible to express these principles as theories of physics.
Takahiro Hatano (Professor, Osaka University)
Nerhol is an artist duo created in 2007 and composed of Yoshihisa Tanaka and Ryuta Iida. Its members previously worked independently, but decided to work as a unit when they found a shared interest in raising questions relevant to the contemporary period and communicating them to an audience. Their exploration started from dissimilation of books, characters and fixed icons around the world. Since 2011, they have continued to develop their unique oeuvre through a distinct method of carving into stacks of over 200 different photographs they have taken of portraits, the result of which are images that appear to distort even the very time axis of the subjects themselves. They have since taken part in exhibitions at museums and galleries both within Japan and abroad and produced works based on subjects including a roadside tree, animals and water, as well as image data and recorded footage found on the internet as their source material. Such works have consistently engaged in an attempt to unveil the multilayered manner of existence harbored within organic entities, which often tend to be overlooked within the context of our day-to-day lives.
Their major solo exhibitions include, “For want of a nail”, KASHIMA 2018 BEPPU ARTIST IN RESIDENCE, Oita (2018), “Interview, Portrait, House and Room”, Youngeun Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea (2017), “Promenade”, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa (2016), “Index”, Foam Museum, Amsterdam (2015). Their works are held in a several collections including Foam Museum, Amsterdam and amana photo collection, Tokyo.
Iida was born in 1981 in Shizuoka Prefecture. After receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the Nihon University College of Art in 2004, he received MA from the Tokyo University of the Arts, Department of Intermedia Art. He is currently based in Tokyo.
Tanaka was born in 1980 in Shizuoka Prefecture and has been based in Tokyo since graduating from the Department of Scenography, Display and Fashion Design, Musashino Art University in 2004.