SHUHEI YAMADA

POST OEDIPUS – ILLUMINATION FOR A CONVERSION OF BLINDNESS –

Tae Yamagiwa

Open then, mine eyes, your double sluice,
And practice so your noblest use
(…)
Thus let your streams overflow your springs,
Till eyes and tears be the same things:
And each the other’s difference bears;
These weeping eyes, those seeing tears.
Andrew Marvel, Eyes and Tears

An image as a sheer crevasse who definitely divides itself into two parts but at the
same time adjoin them on the border…

At a glance, here it seems there is nothing obscure and everything is so apparent
to offer a simple appearance in photography: we can only see what can be seen
and we can’t see what can be never seen in the absolute darkness.

What does this apparition in a single image matter for us on earth?

As we continue to gaze at this image wondering what to focus on, we will found
ourselves torn between two inconsistent areas of the visible and the invisible,
disconcerted by impossibility to integrate them.

You may gape at this gulf, an unfathomed abyss just reflecting what you are
facing.

At first, trying to go further you may possibly trace a signature by pencil of light in
the lower part of picture but when you prefer to authorize it as a signifiant for a sign,
you lack a trail to relate it with another part left as a virgin in the dark. It seems no
use to approach separately only either part of them.

However is it possible to find or establish some integrated relations concerning
both of them?

Such a discreteness in one image can embarrass us because it breaks a mirror to
represent something original and prevents any analogy as a whole. It is clear that
the origin of these images shouldn’t be reached only by obtaining the knowledge
about a “original” scenery that was taken pictures.

We should try to recognize such a moment of conception that definitely required an
artist to give birth to these works rather than asking a question about a concept they
are based on.

What required Shuhei Yamada to merge the visible and the invisible into one
image? What made the artist conceive a series of “Untitled ” in the exhibition
entitled “Day for Night”?

For the initiation to reveal the conception of “Day for Night”, it is useful to refer to
descriptions by the artist; he experienced a moment when the sunlight in the
afternoon of midsummer dazzled his eyes and astonished him so deeply; it
happened to him an ordinary scenery in the park suddenly changed into something
so strange, far from a reality that it seemed nothing to do with him.

He realized everything in his sight was too bright to look into directly but presented
as a suspense, which was just visual but he couldn’t find any relation with it .

Above all, the glaring grasses in the field appeared to him almost as a mere
physical vision by its excessively bright reflection of sunlight.

There he found himself totally isolated from the world, however, at the same time
impossible to be independent of such a violence by strong light which seized his
ability to look at and recognize a object in his own way.

Aiming to represent the moment of such a kind of blindness, Yamada cleared off a
part of the picture and denied any possible relation with it: anything that might
existed above the grass field has been hidden in his photos taken in the daytime by
covered with a print of darkness at night which was shot at the same site in the
park. Some images in Day was replaced with Nigh in the half of picture. That’s his
process to bring the enigmatic coexistence of Day and Night in one picture by
replacement of image of Day with that of Night.

Even so why such a merge does he produced and what was he eager for through
that? Is it none of taking measures against such a violence of light? Does he prefer
only to trace his trauma rather than to retrieve his possibility of his own sight?

According to Yamada’s past works, it can be said the production of art is nothing
but a chance to take back some initiatives or the independence of his own way of
looking from the existing sight or a flood of visual information. They are so
inherently given in the environment such as a typical townscape in the suburb or
girls as a photography subject that he always experiences the difficulty to avoid the
influence of ‘the eyes’ on himself from other people and the society.

Then in many of his works he had seized an opportunity of revenge for his
independent eyes by covering some part of photos taken by him with a white
surface or something else . That covered part in pictures can work just as a screen
to which one can project his images in his mind as he likes or at least leave some
space for his own eyes where any image or sign was forced to go to degree zero or
to another phase different from its original. He aims to convert a difficulty to see and
relate with the environment into a certain sort of possibility through his works.

And they are still similar to his operations on pictures and the motif of creations in a
series of recent works of “Day for Night”.

His experience in the park and such a distance between himself and the world
might remind you of a hero in Greek myths: Oedipus and our fundamental complex
to be shared regarding our inherent blindness.

An essence of tragedy in Oedipus consists in his self-deception where he found at
last he had been deceived for a long time by what he believed he could see and
recognized as true. He had been isolated from a truth by ignorance of his own
blindness. The more convinced of his sight, the more deeply it had deceived him all
the more everything was visible.

What Yamada and Oedipus have in common is the awareness of self-deception of
the visibility.

Nevertheless, compared to Oedipus’s action of sticking his eyes by himself for a
total blindness, Yamada doesn’t deny all of his sight but he left a half part of a
picture as the visible: an area of Day.

Yamada probably believes he can make use of a space of Day to appease a
sterility of Night. The artist bet Day on the conversion of blindness. Still one can see
something even after accepting his blindness.

I would like to name such a positive attitude towards the blindness as ‘Post
Oedipus” not ‘Anti Oedipus’.

In addition, to generalize and connote that attitude as something essential in the
blindness, we can refer to myths or dramas where prophets or other characters
who has a special ability to know the truth or experiences a illumination are mostly
blind people.

Whether they are convincing or not for all of you, anyway you had better to attempt
actually to realize it in facing Yamada’s works. Why don’t you try to align yourself
with attitude of Post Oedipus to expect the blindness can meet a chance to be
converted into something else. Even with high awareness of the blindness in the
visuality and in our eyes we can keep away to let the total blindness rule
everything.

Now, let us forget the episodes of artist’s experiences and conceptions of these
images and also feel free from an effort to successfully integrate two incompatible
areas in them. Just you can follow a chain of pictures and try to look at them
without any preconception in order to appreciate a great chance of conversion of
the blindness through his works, to expect such a moment arise in your eyes. It is in
your eyes that could allow to encourage the light of Day for the darkness of Night.

When we look through a series of these pictures, a rich variation among them can
attract us gradually in the intensity of contrast, the texture of photos and aspects of
ray of light, a sense of space etc..

Then you would become to appreciate them more relatively just like the typology
which is only possible in the relations among several works. It might be a great
challenge to comprehend a typology of light even without any specific form nor
figure as an representative image. However when you suspend a reliance upon a
figure or sign to represent something else by an image, and you discover only a
phenomenological light among them, a moment might come that you realize as if a
light in variations came from somewhere and illuminate each of these pictures in
the darkness.

At last since all of this occurs in our eyes, we might feel our eyes on pictures might
project a image that is conceived in our mind or as if our eyes could cast a light on
the surface of each sheet just as to expose a film in a camera obscura to a light
from ourselves.

This is a time of conversion: the illumination from our eyes or our mind may be
brought to the blindness.

Then it is in our eyes that seems to occur a recurrence of the source of light which
once used to refuse the artist and also ourselves to look at directly: still we are blind
to the sun itself, however, through a reflection from a light source in Yamada’s
works just like a moon, we can recognize how the sunlight itself shine without
seeing it, by imaginary illumination by ourselves.