The Return of Perceptivity

Since 1543 the Polish astronomer Copernicus triggered the Copernican Revolution by formulating his heliocentric theory, the central location of human in the universe set by Claudius Ptolemaeus in his Earth-center system began to collapse. From that on, our perspective toward the universe has been changing. We are affirmed repeatedly that the self-centered cognition should be thrown away. Thus, we gradually learned to view ourselves in a historically and geographically empirical perspective which turns down the evidence from personal experience. We tend to believe that the knowledge obtained from theories or reasoning is much more objective and more correct over that of sensible experience. Therefore, theories are more likely the barrier between our perceptivity and the object, which blocks off the direct relations therein. This finally led our personal sensibility to be unpractical in our experience.

This kind of trend could also be seen in the field of art. The creations of artists are being farther and farther from their own perceptivity. Since the introduction of photography, more and more people gave up drawing and turned to mechanic imaging. The ready-made art became overwhelming after Duchamp. Under the name of “conceptual art’, the original works hand-made by artists could be mass-produced. Even the concept itself shows the tendency of homogeneity. On the other hand, our approach to the art works is being replaced by pictures or even screens. Through this, the originality of the works has been somehow filtered, which makes the works turn out to be two-dimensional images. The materiality, information and contexts contained in the works were thereby diminished through this kind of viewing experience. We may say that this process is the fading of personal perceptivity or the vanishing of community of sense. As Jacques Ranciere has put it, “a frame of visibility and intelligibility that puts things or practices together under the same meaning, which shapes thereby a certain sense of community.” This is exactly the common experience that Yuki Onodera ultimately hopes, through her art practice, to call back and wake up in human beings.

Works of Yuki Onodera have long been companied with the words like “unbelievable”, “enigmatic” and even “obscure”. Considering that her works have never focused on things which bear explicit reference visibly nor would she emphasize some grand narrative which may float upon the works, this kind of feeling could be expected. As she says about it, “I have had even little in mind to create something enigmatic. I’d like to think that this kind of enigma has not only something to do with visual sense, but also with the complex feeling of contradict with my approach to photography and my way to treat the images. Maybe it is the interweave of all these elements that settles down ‘enigma’ on my works.” By tracking down her works, we may find the implicit experience from her personal perceptive are underneath contained in her works, which seemingly do not share direct relations therein. So to say, these works are the external manifestation of Onodera’s personal implicit experience.

As a medium of implicit experience, physical body as “a community of sense” has always been the key for entering Yuki Onodera’s art labyrinth. In «Portrait of Second-hand Clothes», for example, she made use of the shapes of second-hand clothes to build a metonymy of bodies. By doing so, the works not only recall the absent bodies, but also suggest to people the forgotten “memories” relating to the clothes. In «Watch your joints!», she manipulates the images by erasing uniform insignia, altering the athletes’ faces, and adding or repositioning soccer balls. When stripped of the context of the soccer game, the interactions of the athletes are suddenly transformed into incomprehensible and seemingly vacuumed movement. Meanwhile, the inertia of vision is also being transformed and thus, the work causes people to rethink about the action itself. Likely, in «Look out the Window», through painstaking masking work in the darkroom, she creates the illuminated objects floating in space, which becomes the reflection on the relationship of people and “place to live”, and also evokes the original meaning of “camera” as “room”. By enveloping the hard and inarticulate glare of the animal eyes in the marble, which is like a heavenly body suspended in space, the work «zoo» focuses on the “eyes” as a sensory organ. This leads people to rethink about the visual perception. «How to Make a Pearl» is created by inserting a lass marble into her camera, which disperses the light and produces shadows in the photographs. And finally, she enlarged grain of the photos, which powerfully lifting the people out of the surrounding darkness in sharp relief. This kind of trick works prominently to challenge people’s normal visual experience and also arouse the attention to subconscious actions.

In her new series «Muybridge’s Twist», the attention to “community of sense” has been further expanded. The collage works with large scales are created through various tact like photography, dessin and painting. She was inspired by the unconscious movement in American Twist dance, and then choreographed the images which have been enlarged and cut into pieces. The overlapped pictures thus created a visual effect of enchanting and transcendent. It is exactly under her composition that people are being able to return to the most primitive and most direct status of perceptivity.

In this way, Yuki Onodera presented the effect of familiarization by processing, twisting and transforming the original images in her works to signify the inherent characters of iconology discourse. In another word, through composing, assembling and reallocating all these images, she is able to “put things or practices together under the same meaning, which shapes thereby a certain sense of community.”

The emphasis on perceptivity is not only presented in her works, but also becomes the essential part of her creative concept. Hand-made and large scale has always been the two significant characters of her works which may also bring conflicts and contradicts to her works inevitably. In her opinions, “creating works of large scales is at first a big challenge to physical power, not to say the difficulties in other aspects. Only the efforts and time spent on the works is worthwhile enough.” As she says that “artists should not stop on some simple works, but should dedicate themselves into works requiring lots of strength and energy.” As for the reason for saying so, she continues that “the physical efforts paid during the process of creation may intervene with the growth of the artist directly both in skills and in concepts.” For Yuki Onodera, the inspiration, skills, aesthetic, value and worldview in her process of creation are the integral parts of her perceiving the world and the cosmos.