Artistic Bokeh is an initiative to qualitatively explore, map and extend the electrosphere with parameters of artistic research and development. The group is intertwined with the project Artistic Technology Research at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna.
 

Jai McKenzie: 'Never Forever'. November 22nd, 2014 – February 20th 2015

‘Never Forever’ examines the dynamic journey of creation and destruction, the act of remembering and forgetting and the improbability of permanence in an inherently impermanent world. Various forms are eroded through light and fragmented through space. The work exists as if McKenzie sifted through the remains of the building to compile a rearrangement of objects repositioned within time, space and imagination.

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Jai McKenzie: Never Forever
Exhibition: November 22nd, 2014 – February 20th 2015
Opening 21.11.2014, 19:00
Artistic Bokeh Showroom, Electronic Avenue



Jai McKenzie: Never Forever
(Essay by Lauren Reid)

In her practice, Jai McKenzie has held an ongoing interest in how space, light and form can affect not only our way of perceiving the world, but how we experience it, how we move and live within it. Through sculpture and installation, McKenzie uses a variety of oft-used architectural materials, including welded metal, fluorescent lights and woven net to create immersive environments and minimal, geometric forms. The spatial structures that she builds take their cues from the utopian-driven ideals of mid-20th century architecture. When viewed through an architectural perspective, space, light and form have an immense power to manipulate the way we live and think, from the micro level of a single individual to the macro level of populations. Such grand plans have aimed to shape our lived experience but are often never realised, or abandoned after being built. This is particularly exemplified in the case of the Nakagin Capsule Tower, which McKenzie focuses the installation, Never Forever on.

The Nakagin Capsule Tower was designed as a modular structure by the architect Kisho Kurokawa. The apartment building was constructed with 140 prefabricated capsules that could be independently removed and constantly updated over time. Within each capsule was a self-contained apartment intended initially to be inhabited by single businessmen. The Tower was the first example of capsule architecture built for permanent and practical use, taking just 30 days to be erected in 1972. With its replaceable capsules, the Nakagin Capsule Tower provided a design that could be flexible, easily maintained and continuously updated to the living standards of the time, both now and in the future.

The structure reflected the ideology of the Metabolist movement, which Kurokawa spearheaded from the late 50s. For the Metabolists, who were coming from a post-war Japan and reflecting on a new sense of existence, impermanence was seen as a necessary way of life. Many were disillusioned and uncertain about the future, suspicious of claims to the eternal and unable to trust in the visible. The movement therefore upheld key architectural concepts of sustainability, attention to detail (over the whole), materiality (using materials as close to their natural state as possible) and impermanence. The notion of ‘receptivity’ was also important to their buildings, which should be able to absorb and adapt to their ever-changing environment. In turn, the characteristics of an ideal building that is constantly evolving and open to new ways of being, reflects that of an ideal citizen. The Metabolist movement, sought not merely to meet the needs of a city, but to shape a different social direction.

Despite its ambitious desire to create a new model for the future, The Nakagin Capsule Tower turned out to be the only building of its kind in Japan and the capsules have never been replaced. Some capsules are still used as apartments, others for storage or office spaces. Meanwhile, many have been abandoned and left to deteriorate. In 2013, McKenzie visited the Tower only to discover it encased in a mesh structure, which she was unable to enter. She describes a feeling of longing and desire to discover the decaying building. It is this crumbling both physically and conceptually of utopian ideals that is key to McKenzie’s practice. In particular she is interested in the idea of flux or a constant movement of energy toward or away from its potential, also one of the key principles of the Japanese aesthetic concept Wabi-sabi.

In McKenzie’s site-specific installation Never Forever, she in turn evokes her personal experience for viewers, who are similarly shut out from entering the installation space as she was from the Tower. McKenzie echoes the form of the original capsules, reducing them to minimal structures– a neat pile of fabrics stacked with a pillow and a circular pendant light, are reminiscent of the single window portals and domestic spaces inside the capsules. McKenzie’s installation, stripped of detail, acts as a container or framework for the idea of unrealised potentials. This sparse minimalism allows viewers to project their own memory and imagination onto the forms within. The installation is awash with colour, which gives it the surreal feeling of a futuristic ruin - alien and devoid of human life. Unlike the Nakagin Capsule Tower, the installation is seemingly impervious to the threat of decline, yet also unable to move toward a new possible future. It is as if the space has been crystallised in time, a relic of a future that was never actualised.

RECOMMENDED READING

Runway is an independent Australian experimental art journal run by a collective of Sydney-based and internationally-based artists, writers and curators. Runway is currently published three times a year and includes feature articles, interviews, artist commissions, reviews, previews and international updates. Each issue is organised around a theme, and all content is commissioned based on proposals submitted in an open callout.
Kisho Kurakawa cofounded the Metabolist Movement in 1960, whose members were known as Metabolists. It was a radical Japanese avant-garde movement pursuing the merging and recycling of architecture styles within an Asian context. The movement was very successful, peaking when its members received praise for the Takara Cotillion Beautillion at the Osaka World Expo 1970. The group was dismantled shortly thereafter.
Mary Warner Marien discusses photography from a truly global viewpoint and looks at a wide-ranging collection of images through the lenses of art, science, travel, war, fashion, the mass media and individual photographers. In addition to representing the established canon of Europe and the United States, key work from Latin America, Africa, India, Russia, China and Japan is also included. Professional, amateur and art photographers are all discussed, with Portrait boxes devoted to highlighting important individuals and Focus boxes charting particular cultural debates.
Jai McKenzie's Light and Photomedia is an important reflection on the very conditions of seeing in our world today. By understanding photomedia not through subject matter and technology, but as light-space-time, we recognise reality for what it is: negotiable and vibrant.
 
 
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