As far as I remember, “arrow sings” first grabbed my attention when I was planning “Weight/ Japan trench”, 1981, a project to sink a solid stainless steel ball that had the same weight as my body to the bottom of Japan Trench. While certainly existing in the great depth of Japan Trench, the ball would be no longer visible to us. How could such an invisible object be portrayed within the horizon (?) of our visibility? This question pushed me to develop the idea of creating and exhibiting an “arrow sign” that indicates and directs the whereabouts of the ball—It is over there. Today, it seems it would not be so difficult to show its whereabouts on the display of a smartphone, using GPS, if some kind of transmitter was attached (?) to the ball, although it would become a totally different work.
Early this year, once again “arrow signs” grabbed my attention, when I encountered them as I passed by a construction site. To date, I have formed many different signs and shapes in my work. But it has been nothing to do with depiction, although this word very often arises when it comes to drawing signs and shapes that are often considered as models of something not present on site. Especially, “arrow signs” are signs that do not depict the object. Rather, they present or indicate it. I used to very often use the term “shosoku” (literally “disappeared breath,” meaning news on someone who is gone from your sight) in regard to my practice, and the structure formed by arrows could be considered as something that is structured as “depiction of shosoku,” if it is ever about depiction.
Working on “arrow signs,” I cannot help pondering about Western Pure Land (Amitabha’s Buddhist paradise) or the image of Descent of Amida over the Mountain, maybe because I am currently in dialogue with a young artist for a sort of collaborative project where each of us contemplate the issue of “death.”
Also, I have been interested in triangle shapes △ for a long time, its most impressive embodiment for me being the nine white triangles △ that appear in three rows over the (grisly) wall of the small Otabisho shrine seen in the annual festival held in Wakamiya Shrine, branch of Kasuga Grand Shrine. In fact, they must be cross sections of nine triangular poles placed horizontally between the walls, but their appearance simply blows my mind. Looking from distance, triangle shapes also appear like dots—Every dot is actually in the shape of △.
When I was an elementary school student, one of my brothers, then a university student, taught me equations, saying “placing an X for what is not known.” What does it mean to place an X for an unknown? If it is unknown, is the act of placing something even possible? I remember I was totally confused, but at the same time, there was a feeling that I had perhaps learnt a great secret of human beings, some mysterious alchemy. What a triangle △ indicates seems to be this very thing that is “placed” to represent an unknown or the act of placing such a thing itself.
I am also interested in the idea of “affordance,” which for example suggests that the form of a hand is always already given a potential to adjust itself to best fit a cup to hold it up. For some time now, I have been working on various artistic developments based on an idea that may be relevant to it—What you envision will take shape. Moreover, do objects also do “affordance”? In my head, voltage leaks of thought never ends.
(Fragments from notes by the artist taken while working in his studio)