Home Gallery
Background Image

Sea of Serendipity

The Sonic Ocean

by Maya Tripitaka

Nuna Penthouse II Exhibition, 2019

The room is white. On one wall sits a large white canvas in three pieces. It has part of a chair etched onto its upper left region. Sparse minimalism, a pale shadow on eggshell white on gallery white, the Japanese quest for poetic subtlety akin to a white bird on the snowy slopes of Mt Fuji. A hand-made chair sits in the middle of the room facing the canvas. It is the same chair that is scratched onto its surface with simple lines, as a child might draw a chair but with more surety.

The chair and the canvas depicting the chair set up an unexpected dialogue between the viewer and the viewed. The chair is positioned to view a painting of itself. It "sits in" for a human viewer. The painting creates a feedback loop, a commentary on the chair and the space that surrounds it.

Where the collective visual space is a meditation on whiteness, the aural space is filled with carefully crafted sounds that connect to the assembled objects along another plane. These are the sounds of the chair being made, the artist in his studio sharpening saws, drawing his plane along wood, speaking to himself as he works. The making of the artwork becomes the essence of the artwork. Sea of Serendipity is a collaborative sound sculpture by Kazu Nakagawa (visual artist), Helen Bowater (composer) and David Bowater (composer/sound engineer). It confronts our understanding of how we perceive art; what limits we assign to an artwork and whether they are real edges or edges that we impose—our own limitations.

The collection of sounds emanating from opposing speakers were recorded in Nakagawa's studio by Bowater and Bowater and arranged into electroacoustic pieces so that, coupled with canvas and chair, the work centres on the hidden relationship between making and viewing art. The compositions, one by each of the Bowaters, are played against each other and they overlay in aperiodic fashion. The overall sound fabric only repeats after a few days so that a dimension of time is added to an otherwise static display.

The Japanese concept of “ma” which Nakagawa employs in his art practice, and which the Bowaters’ echo in this sonic fabric, is at the heart of the work. Japanese design aesthetics place equal or even greater weight on negative space, the space that surrounds an object and is reflected off the object. Ma holds a work in tension with, and extends its reach into, its surroundings. In this work the silences in the sonic textures and the spaces between visual objects are as vital as the objects themselves. Every facet of this work has something to say. It reveals itself to you in "Aha!" moments.

Sea of Serendipity is a thought piece. Its objects almost don't matter—they're like the spectacles you see through rather than the eyes you see with. The chair is skeletal in its rendering, which feels right as the empty/not empty gallery—and what any gallery represents—provides the real flesh for these bones.

WHERE :Nuna Penthouse II Gallery

Return to Essays