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Yasuto MASUMOTO: Delicate Tongue
Written by Tomohiro MASUDA   
Published: August 20 2009

     At the moment of entering the exhibition room, I find my own image appears on a TV monitor which is placed in the left-hand corner of the room. In the right-hand corner, a camera is placed facing the entrance of the room. Therefore, I can recognize my own figure which is “now” entering the room. Although, usually, I am not aware of being really hunched over, I am unpleasantly surprised by having such an awkward posture when I see a picture of myself with my own eyes. I look anew at my own posture objectively through the monitor, and straighten my back without thinking. At that moment, I become aware that “I am now in the room”.

fig. 1 View from "Yasuto Masumoto, solo exhibition" in gallery Archipelago, courtesy of gallery Archipelago, copy right(c) Yasuto MASUMOTO

fig. 2 View from "Yasuto Masumoto, solo exhibition" in gallery Archipelago, courtesy of gallery Archipelago, copy right(c) Yasuto MASUMOTO

fig. 3 View from "Yasuto Masumoto, solo exhibition" in gallery Archipelago, courtesy of gallery Archipelago, copy right(c) Yasuto MASUMOTO

     On the front wall, we find that the images of some performance, which was conducted “in the past” in this room where I am “now” standing, are being shown. Through the images, we can guess that the performance, which was held on the first day of the exhibition term, involved several reciters reading the same phrases individually with different timings. At the beginning of the film, since there is only one reciter, we barely hear what he says in the noisy situation, in which people swarm around him in the room. We imagine that, through his scarcely audible words, he is reciting a passage of a novel, something like that published by France Shoin Inc., a copy of which is displayed in the corner of the room. Nevertheless, as the number of reciters grows gradually, their voices come to mix with each other and change to become a loud buzz, and, ultimately, we cannot grasp the meaning of their words.

     The images sometimes change from those of the whole exhibition location, which were taken from different angles at fixed points, to those taken by a person who seems to be Yasuto Masumoto himself using a handheld camera. There are some images of the reciters’ faces which were taken in close-up. In some scenes, the reciters, who notice that they are being filmed, smile sheepishly, probably because they are conscious of the camera. In addition, the handheld camera films the faces of the viewers, who are looking at the performance seriously, or the feet of the women viewers. In this way, using a fixed-point observation, a slow movement of images alternating repeatedly between those from the handheld camera and a close-up, and coming and going between macroscopic and microscopic perspectives, Masumoto conveys the whole picture of the performance to us through the film.

     I am “now” in the room and seeing with my own eyes the performance, which was held “in the past” in this room. Strictly speaking, through the images, I am looking at the overall picture of the “past” room which was formed without me, a person who exists “at this moment”, while I am “now” standing here as a part of this room. If I had seen the performance recorded in the film, in real time “in the past”, I could have understood what the reciter, who was standing next to me, was saying. Nonetheless, all the voices, which I am “now” hearing in front of the film, make me feel that they can be regarded only as a mass of noises. Thus it is meaningless for me, a person who exists here “at the present moment”, that I cannot understand the content of what they are reading aloud, although it may be something like a pornographic novel published by France Shoin. I can only manage to presume that the reciters in the film seem to be reading the novel, a copy of which is displayed in the exhibition site, by reading the passage written in the copy which was posted in the venue, or by looking at the reciters in the film, who are smiling because of their awareness of being filmed. In other words, I, who do not exist “now” in the “past” room, can assume that the content of the novel which is being read by the reciters in the film, seems to be the same as that written in the paper which is displayed in the room, but cannot believe that such an assumption would be true.

     “Now”, in this room, I hear the reciters’ voices only as noises which were recorded “in the past”. Also, indeed, the images, which were taken by using the macroscopic and microscopic perspectives repeatedly, render the whole picture of the performance to us, but do not complement my perspective. As I have mentioned above, my own figure, which I see at the moment of entering this room, makes me realize that I am “now” in the room; namely, I exist as an actor on the side of those looking at the images. Therefore, the images only show us the overall picture of the “gone” performance, which I can see at this moment with my own eyes, rather than the “past” performance, which surrounds me “now”.

     In this way, there is quite a difference that cannot be filled between the two spaces; one is the space in which I exist “at the present moment” and the other is the “past” space which appears in the film, though their places are the same. Originally, imagination or empathy would remove such a difference and lead us from the “present” world to another world. In addition, it can be said that the role of art should be to stimulate such feelings. Nevertheless, in Masumoto’s film, I am not sure if I can use this word here but, various “noises” - the reciters’ voices, which are almost the same as buzzes, or macroscopic and microscopic perspectives, which Masumoto used repeatedly for creating the film - do not allow me to be involved as one player in the “gone” world which appears in front of me. His film compels me to face the whole picture of the “past” world as a person who exists in this “present” world. In this way, the difference between the “present” room and the “past” room makes us presuppose a critical point of imagination or empathy and become conscious of the characteristics of each world, namely, the “present” and the “past”. Thus, it seems that the space which he made up in this exhibition should not be regarded simply as the place for showing a recording of a performance but should be considered as one completed work.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

Last Updated on July 05 2010

Editor's Note by Satoshi Koganezawa

This work features a recorded image of the performance done on the first day of the exhibition, flowing onto the gallery wall. It is a movie of scenery in which many people read aloud a text with shameless sexual content. The video camera records the changes of expression of many or finally one person who is reading the text, along with onlookers who frown or disregard the face, a spectator who leaves the hall because of antipathy, and the photographer himself. Another camera is set up in the hall, which takes an image of me while I am looking at the situation. This image is also projected onto another small television monitor. The attempt is novel in that I am looking at the situation as an onlooker, but I am also being viewed. However the most delightful point about this exhibition is the confrontational structure of seeing/being seen because of the ridiculous nature of the text. The voice is so unclear that it is hard to understand the content of most readings just from the image. It is almost impossible to listen to the content of most readings in the movie because the voice is so unclear. But don't worry. The text is also posted on the wall. What kind of face would you show when reading it?

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