The works presented in Tsuyoshi Anzai’s first solo exhibition in the UK pose questions about the ‘thereness’ of everyday items. Taking inspiration from the Platonic philosophical assumption of a world of ideas which is hidden from human senses, Anzai attempts to disrupt the way we unconsciously and passively perceive “representation”, by creating a state where the object is suspended somewhere between reality and illusion.
In the series of works ‘distance’ (2016- ), a device invented by Anzai, called ‘New Video Player’, enables viewers to see an object as an illusory video image, although the object is in fact in front of them. Using the mechanism of a camera obscura, this box-like device projects an image of 3D objects onto a screen through a lens. The device produces moving images in a way that is completely different from conventional video-recording devices, since the subject itself, namely the kinetic sculpture, is moving inside the device. Etymologically referring to the ancient Greek word kinesis (motion), kinetics started being applied to art at the end of the 19th century, by impressionist artists seeking a more rounded representation of the human figure through the use of perspective. In the 20th century, the concept of movement was then applied to objects and three dimensional works.
Intending to put under scrutiny the dualism between representation and interpretation, in the paintings ‘TBD’, inspired by everyday items, Anzai removes the illustrated objects from any context and leaves the viewer free to focus on their pure form.
The chasm between the objective and the subjective also inspired the title of the exhibition, where the term “Jailhouse” alludes to the prisoners of Plato’s Cave, and “Locke” refers to the philosopher John Locke, one of the founders of Empiricism, a philosophical movement which asserts that our knowledge can be acquired only from what we perceive through our senses.Additionally, the title contains a veiled pun, referencing the Jailhouse Rock song by Elvis Priestley. As with the rocker’ famous dance moves, the movements of Anzai’s kinetic sculptures capture the viewer with their impermanent choreographies.
Breaking free of what the artist defines as the “modern disease of the subject/object distinction created by Descartes”, Anzai’s works challenge the visitors to look beyond simplifications and into the intertwined complexities of our modern world.