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Art Projects






Ocean White - Cross disciplinary, Inter-cultural Installation Performance

e University of Melbourne, November, 2010
Supported by The Australian Academy of the Humanities,
The Japan Foundation, Griffith University and The University of Melbourne

Naomi Ota (Direction / visual artist)
Genta Iwamura (Lighting designer)
Tim Humphrey and Madeleine Flynn (Composers/musicians)
Soo Yeun You (Performer)
Peter Eckersall (Dramaturg)

Oceean White - Two munutes slide show with sound

Ocean White is a collaborative visual-sound-lighting installation performance with the international collaborator Genta Iwamura who is the lighting designer for acclaimed Butoh dance company Sankaijuku since 1990 and is highly-experienced in design for performance and installation projects.

The project explored two spatial concepts. They are notions of 'Yohaku-no-bi' (Japanese term: literally translated as beauty of extra white) and 'pathway'. Yohaku-no-bi, in the sense of 'open space' which focuses on what is left out of a design rather than what is put in. The aesthetics of yohaku (extra white, white space) is often associated with the concept of 'emptiness ' or 'nothingness' of Zen philosophy and it is visualised in Zen garden for meditation purposes.

However what we emphasise here is a new perspective of Yohaku-no-bi generated by Naomi's research in Okinawa. Utaki (Sacred grove: also called 'on') in Taketomi island is non-decorative and empty, but a powerful and sublime space. While Zen gardens such as Karesansui (literally, 'dry landscape') are precisely designed, with a solemn atmosphere suggesting a resolute attitude, the open space of Utaki exists as very carefree, and fits comfortably within people's everyday lives.

Some pathways on the island act as a guide to the Utaki space. Utaki is naturally found by following those attractive pathways. The concept of pathway in the project will be interpreted as a transformative element leading audiences into open white space.

White here represents open space but also includes colour of white. One side of Taketomi's seashore is covered by coral bones, dazzling white under the tropical sunshine. The variety in the details of those corals gave an impression of rich whiteness and feeling of stillness. That could be from the factor of coral's nature of 'slow-growing'. (The slow-growing species grows only between 2 and 6 mm/year. The corals provide multi-century records.) The notion of stillness will be also experimented with as an element of the Ocean white project.

  The installation was developed through a collaborative process that investigated the artistic concept through visual art, sonic and lighting combinations and techniques. For example, the idea of pathway was created not only by placing visual objects but also through sound and lighting media, allowing for the evocation of multiple pathways as trajectories in light and sound. The visual (material) objects were developed as sound sculptures, interpreting a disclosure of spatial and temporal relationships between material form and resonating sound frequencies.
The installation was constructed as a treatment of pathway and open white as spatial and temporal metaphors, dynamically shifting experiences of spatial disclosure towards experiences of place and finally site. Varied elements was discovered along the eventually disclosing the open white area. The project also investigated activations of the environment
through dance experiments.

Dramaturgical note
In this workshop we have explored the interactions of light, sound, body, space and form. Dramaturgically the encounter is multilayered. One aspect is the visible and tangible relationship of forms such as when their transforming potential can be seen and sometimes activated by viewers. Another aspect explores cross-cultural exchange as the artists draw on unique cultural histories, imagination and levels of engagement with technology. The result is a decentred dramaturgy that ebbs and flows with the transformations taking place.
Peter Eckersall, Drumaturg

  Photos by Jave Lee >> Back to Top