What is nature?
10-30 October 2019
The artist’s latest quest for a deeper understanding of the world around him led to the new series of paintings and photographs What is Nature created in 2019. The series became a convoluted story, an entire galaxy of questions with their corresponding dice throws. The most important one is the uncertain relationship between natural and unnatural revealed in different narratives. The artist believes that individual cognition determines the surrounding environment. Artificial constructions surrounded by buildings may look like natural and natural sport surrounded by trees may seem unnatural. Perception of nature depends upon a living environment.
Humans have deviated from the hierarchy of animal kingdom, evolved and created more sinister and dangerous structures of dominance. The current sociobiological moment is calling us to think about the extraordinary fragility of life on the planet earth. People are afraid of nature, nature is afraid of people, fears intermingle and defense turns into aggression. Vector variation is ambiguous and dictates what might happen.
The overflow of technology, inspired by Google and Apple, created a new order of things. Internet technology became a part of natural surroundings and is changing our motivations and needs. New requirements caused by the spread of technological, social, demographic and economic changes are revealed in Looking for a Leader (2019) and a photograph series In the Garden Night (2018). In these series a dog is digitally photographed at night in IR, converted into blueprint image with analog technology and then sensitized by means of projector. The artist claims that we, Millennials, can manipulate various technological processes: convert analog into digital or produce efficient vegetables without human labor and natural environment. However, we should not forget that if there is no nature that changes every second the current environment would not exist. In Elizabethan Collar (2019) the artist argues whether it is natural to castrate and contracept animals or fashionable to keep them as human home pets. A silent agreement on this matter was concluded by people ages ago. However, the canvas surface becomes a place that questions this orthodox truth. By assuming their roles in his story, viewers may take their places in that context and change the paradigmatic course of development.
Wind Power Generation (2019) is painted after the photograph taken more than 10 years ago. Two kids are standing in front of the wind power generator surrounded by wild nature. The artist claims that it looks quite natural. The artificial constructions or new territories like his native town carved out of nature and organized for technical reason set up the metaphorical order that establishes what we habitually consider to be our natural landscape. Further on Arimoto tells the story that in reality, one of those kids, his sister, has passed away. Now she exists only in the snares of his memory and turns into the category of unnatural as opposed to the corporeal and measured present. Though a dead person does not exist in actuality, it may remain as an image and exist inside of that which expresses it. In this way, the artist has put in contact with each other elements with no visible internal connections in the guise of a single event.
Such interpretation demolishes conventional cliches about natural and unnatural and shows their mysterious connection, thus enlarging the field of possible interpretations. To decode the artist’s system of signs the viewer must enter into relationship with the work and project his/her own subjective experience onto it. Over and above the immediate visual content there is a play of instincts, paradoxical instances that has the power to move us emotionally consciously or unconsciously.
Arimoto Kenji was born in 1991. After graduation from Kobe University, he entered the art world with bright and often violent, even cruel visual statements. From his childhood the artist lives in a new bedroom residential area built on the top of a flattened mountain from where people have to commute to the city. The town was built in the 1990’s during Japanese bubble economy and is lined up with 2 x 4 houses. This place has no history. It is separated from nature and local culture physically and spiritually by the concrete wall. Nature with its mountains and wild animals flourish outside the town. The wall became a boundary between natural and human zones. Every day on his way to the atelier the artist moves through this space and takes a bypass road in a depopulated area outside town. The surrounding world, actual landscape with its physical, social and psychological effects determined many subjects of Arimoto’s art works. His paintings, photographs or installations are sharp and witty, always catching a nerve.