Tomoko Aoki
Level 8, 2009, mixed media, 250 × 320 × 400cm

Tomoko Aoki
Level 7, 2008, mixed media, 200 × 200 × 200cm

Tomoko Aoki
Level 4, 2008, tapes on wall, microphone, 320 × 400cm

It was my grandfather who influenced me from an early age, and whose work as an Ukiyo-e authenticator enriched my artistic education. As a result, my work has repeatedly been inspired by 17th and 18th century Japanese Ukiyo-e prints and paintings. These “pictures of the floating world” often have an oblique projection which transforms the flat surface of the distinctive line drawings into a 3D space. It is this relationship between 3D and flatness that intrigues me the most. For example in Jakuchu Ito’s “Birds and Flowers” paintings, there is a series of paintings of cocks which seem very flat at first sight, but because the eyes of the cocks are drawn in different directions, the paintings actually have a greater depth of field.

Through the exchange programme at the Cooper Union in New York, I was able to make several animations, which too would influence my ideas and the concept of my work. I’ve always been interested in the relationship between power and social structure, and whilst working on my animations became fascinated by the control I had over the creation of my piece. I was able to manipulate every movement, alternate every frame, and it was bearing this in mind that I expanded my work into a large stage set.

The stage set was comprised of several anamorphic images influenced by Holbein’s famous anamorphic skull, The Ambassador, which the audience was unconsciously guided to view from a particular position. The visual graphic images were born from interests in traditional Japanese paintings and graphic line drawings such as those by Michael Craig-Martin. With seductive graphic images mounted on the walls and floor initially taking influence from Dan Graham’s piece “Time Delay Room”, I decided to develop the idea of delayed broadcasting and created a live feed in the adjacent room. The stage set was observed by a video camera, which broadcasted live onto a projection or TV monitor. There was also a microphone, whose speakers were located on the stage set. This allowed audience members observing the set through the monitor or projection, to guide the audiences stood on my stage to stand in specific positions, or walk into a particular space. These walking patterns inadvertently became my choreography; the process created a physical power relationship, though not through my instruction, but rather through their unconscious behaviour, representing in my opinion social structure.

http://www.tomokoaoki.com/
tomoko.aoki.uk@gmail.com