“Tetsuya Umeda: Science of Superstition”


Ota Fine Arts

A bucket and a mop and a ramshackle assortment of fans and lights — all sprawled across the floor and ceiling of Ota Fine Arts in east Tokyo’s Kachidoki area (www.ota.finearts.com) — lie dormant. Flick several switches, though, and a chaotic performance ensues, pulleys plunging objects into water-filled trash cans, spinning rotors connecting dangling wires to complete electrical circuits that set off lights and explosions of sound.

Tetsuya Umeda’s installations are as much about those sounds as they are about the arrangement of the everyday items he uses. Umeda’s main work is the objects’ performance, which he helps orchestrate but is never in control of. At Ota, he has assembled four electrical circuits that are connected and trigger one another with unpredictable results: Watch for a while and there is no regular pattern, rather a random escalation of noise, flashes and motion followed by silences.

The artist often performs in rundown buildings with installations that reflect the disorder around them. Ota Fine Arts is one of the smaller spaces that Umeda has used, as was Ota’s room at the Art@Agnes art fair in Tokyo this past January. In one of the best presentations in the hotel fair, a pile of feathers in a bedroom, looking as if it had been pulled out of a comforter, would burst into the air when a fan was turned on by an electrical circuit being completed when wires dipped into the tub in the bathroom.

You could attempt a meaningful statement about the unpredictability of these constructions representing the random nature of our existence in the world, but that would be as futile as assigning a particular meaning to life. Probably it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the show.