Glass talks to Japanese artist Yutaka Inagawa on his solo exhibition

WITH the essence of contradiction at its core focus, Yutaka Inagawa continues to explore the realms of the creative medium in both art and its presentation. eASY mECHANISM |符と思う is an exhibition that notably expresses the artist’s expansion on a multidisciplinary format of space incorporation and unites art with its surroundings. 

Throughout the installation, Yutaka Inagawa is channelling on the otherworldly perplex yet capturing an engaging and familiar atmosphere. He let his mind run free and explore the depths of abstract reality, delving into a realisation that approaching virtual creatures can be akin to interacting with paranormal entities.

Applying this idea to his title was derived from the notion of “the other side”. The idea of juxtaposition in reference to logical and cultural contexts prolongs this transcultural remark, emphasising Inagawa’s recognition of the fact that the original and localised contexts are not exactly the same as the reverse. Following the same philosophy in his artistry, he believes that painting, photography, sculpture, and all other mediums of creation come with “different logic in different realms”. 

Configuring his experiences, Inagawa speaks to Glass about his artistic reflections on the immediate environment and societal concerns, goes in-depth on his inspirations, and shares why this abstract realm will only continue to expand. 

What are the environmental and societal concerns you trying to express?

Before covid, visiting other countries and cities for exhibitions, research, and projects was a critical aspect of maintaining a creative flow in my life. It seemed to work quite well to me. However, because of covid, this workflow has completely changed. Home, my physical studio, and my immediate surroundings have taken over my workflow.

Also, I have been using Twitter as a resource for my research on local debates since the beginning of the covid. Feminism and institutional discrimination in Japanese society immediately drew my attention; to some extent, it was very useful and educational to understand the power structures I had been dealing with here and there.I hadn’t used Twitter before covid, but when I used it for my research, I realised that certain aphorisms and insults have been fostered in amoral Japanese Twitter, and I wasn’t immune to these weaponised emotions.

Thus, certain phrases stuck in my mind. So, I fragmented, decontextualised, and used online auto-translation to create parallel versions, then repeated the process to generate an ambient feeling that is a combination of fuelled emotions and grammatically and semantically generalised structure.

Why do you choose to present a variety of mediums?

Each creative medium, whether digital or physical, has its own logic and a peculiar reality that is unique to that field. I believe that the inclusion of multiple logics in the show is essential. I’m interested in a holistic landscape and the interconnectedness of various points and territories, how the juxtaposition of different languages and vocabularies in each medium affect each other to form illogical architecture.

What is the meaning behind the series of quotes displayed on the wall?

Those quotes are a kind of poetry in relation to alternative exhibition titles I devised. When I work, I come up with a lot of different variations and alternatives.  A specific methodology is applied to those unrealised titles and developed into the poetic form. 

What inspired you to rework some of your existing pieces?

Because there is no ageing process for a digital entity, it is more like an editable time stamp that we can apply to different time lines to create a new lineage (s). In addition, I photograph the majority of the digital materials I use in my work. Meta data that shows the time and location I was physically present at the time I shot each photo / video footage. I like the idea of pinning down on one side because something else on the other side always comes along. In this sense, it is a form of digital self-mapping.  I wanted to turn the idea of those timelines and timestamps into a physical entity. 

What is the reasoning behind using wood in your structures?

I generally do not seek out materials to fit a particular design; rather, I encounter them in the course of daily life. Chance and randomness play a significant role in refracting my initial intention. This is incredibly useful for sustaining nonlinear process flow. Then, wooden construction materials are traditionally utilised extensively in Japanese homes. Particularly in Onomichi, the townscape is known for its nostalgia with old houses, temples, shrines, and derelict houses. Materials are circulated due to the town’s metabolism, and some of them reach me.

 What is the concept behind the red sculptures?

The three red enamel fabric sculptures correspond to a number of rooms in the MOU. I consider the exhibition space to be one of the materials (or conditions) with which to engage in creative dialogue. As each room’s dialogue differs from one another, so does the outcome. A red sculpture is the connecting element between the three rooms.

In regards to the satin prints when did this idea of cyber materiality initiate for you?

That’s when I realised the phrase “digital print” sounded so absurd. I understand the term was coined as a counter-concept to offset printing. However, digital printing can be a very complicated term. Although the concept is the same, we do not refer to text typed on a computer and printed as “digital text”. When we say digital print, we’re referring to this phantom-like digital image on the print. 

 What are you trying to express when using a series of poetic scripts derived from the heated tweets for the installation videos?

The original tweet was written in Japanese. And the vocabulary in the Twitter universe can be full of emotions and feelings. Poetic scripts are justified by their own logic. Those scripts, like the other artwork there, are not intended to tell you a single narrative or story; rather, they are an open structure that invites you to imagine echoing voices from various social settings and identities.

Will these concepts of abstract and fictitious realities continue?

Yes, that is most likely. However, abstract images are already concrete, just as abstract painting is a real thing that exists in the physical world. So, I may just happen to use something that appears to be very figurative or tied to a specific point of reference in order to approach the abstract realm. The same goes for fictitious reality. The goal is to have a moving or shaky ground to stand on.

by Zlata Kryudor

All images are installation views of eASY mECHANISM | 符と思う(2022)