I have a theory that we're attracted to certain things throughout our lives because they bind themselves to us when we're little. Not a very original theory, I know. One of the most distinct memories I have from when I was little, is walking through the streets with my mother during a really hot summer, holding her hand, surrounded by people. I remember feeling overwhelmed that day, so I decided not to look up, but down. All along the side of the street were reflected lights that danced through people's feet. I assume, from memory, this was the reflection of things like mirrors, watch faces, sunglasses and shiny objects being sold in the market streets. But they seemed magical to me, like disembodied light.
Maybe this disembodied light decided to befriend me for life that day, because I constantly search for it in words, images and art. I love that moment of gazing at a photograph and searching for its source of light. Or perhaps being mesmerised by the yellowish tinge of light that stands distinct from the shadows. It is aesthetically beautiful, but its real beauty for me lies in the idea that it makes me pause and remember.
The first thing that attracted me to Shinji Turner-Yamamoto's art installation, 'Disappearances - an eternal journey', was the interplay between light and shadow, and the purity of its illumination. For me, light is about remembering, or childhood memory, which is seemingly the opposite of disappearance. And yet, this installation is based on a philosophy of disappearance that is dependent upon an understanding of vanishing beauty as an eternal cycle. Like memory, the substances with which Turner-Yamamoto creates his art vanish and return, with the same subtle beauty of the movement of light from morning to evening. In his own words, "this ultimate material, powder and dust, which seemed eternally in the process of vanishing, became the singular material in my paintings, sculpture, and installations" (quote from here).
I love getting swept away with dramatic artistic gestures and art installations. But lately, I've been drawn to a subtler, quieter beauty, that seeks to illuminate things taken for granted. Shinji Turner-Yamamoto's art also reminds me of the words Siubhan photographed by Camille Pissarro: "Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing". I think this quote says it all.
Image credits: All images are from here and here, and are copyrighted to Shinji Turner-Yamamoto. They are from the art installation, 'Disappearances - an eternal journey', 2011, created with coral, gypsum, burnt limestone, and rainwater, at 2 East Fulton Street, 2nd floor, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Click here to read more about the project.