Ice Park (B), 2007
89 1/4 x 60 inches)
I first came across the work featured above from Ice Park 2007 by Noriko Furunishi in a recent issue of Blind Spot 37. I have to admit that my first, second,third glance through the images in the issue was very brief and casual – on the bus ride into work. But, I found Furunishi’s images to be quite nice – beautiful depictions of ice formations in wintry mountainous terrain. I liked them enough – simply for their composition and form – and the fact that you don’t “usually” see landscape depictions composed in a vertical photographic format. The images stuck in my mind from the other more “constructed” and you might say overtly manipulated photographic work – begging for a “reading” either of subject matter and/or acknowledgement of the artists chosen photographic process or more frankly simply the artist’s hand – at least for the first few glances. At any rate – for some some reason – the Ice park images stuck (and still remain) in my memory.
Ice Park (D), 2007
89 1/4 x 60 inches)
So upon a closer look again, I noticed a detail here or there that at seemed odd, not quite what I had expected to see – then looking closer, I realized more and more details revealing wonderfully odd juxtapositions and shifts in perspective – a real “cubist” moment for me – at least at the surface of stylistic references. Everything seemed to be in and out of scale, upside down and quite disorienting – but revealing something to me in a good way. I can only imagine the effect in the presence of a full scale work might be compared to the diminutive but still rewarding size as reproduce in Blind Spot.
Reading up a bit on what I could find about this work introduced to me to a deeper appreciation for the approach. Furunishi’s contemporary approach along with a measured comparison to a historical cultural appreciation of nature as read in the context of more traditional Chinese landscape painting reveals an artistic attempt to convey a contemplation and depiction of our contemporary relationship with nature.
My first realization is that the depictions go beyond mere superficial mimicry and gimmicks – if you consider the subject matter depicted – for example, a snapshot of the artificial ice climbing competition – pictured below – from one such “ice park”
My read on the work (now that I’ve spent some time with it), and the subject matter that Furunishi deals with in this series is about a very contemporary cultural view of “man VS. nature” where your worth is measured by the time and skill with which you can overcome nature’s obstacle before you – even if it is artificially natural…
Second realization, is to consider a reference to historical Chinese landscape painting – traditionally depicting a way of being with and in commune with nature – in a more mystical and spiritual way – not in opposition to nature – this is where it begins to be interesting and to me seems to be the “message” in the work to consider. Where do we stand in relation to nature?
Tang Yin (1470-1523): Conversation by the River.
A question to consider: How will we – our cultural generation – be “remembered” for our depictions of our view of the landscape and “nature” in generations to come?
For me anyway, I find this sort of contemporary fine art work interesting to consider and a much more fruitful endeavor considering the potential of “constructed” photographic work that abounds. Thanks again Blind Spot for another fine example of the strong work out there for sure worth looking at more than a few times over…
More on NORIKO FURUNISHI – via Murray Guy, Blind Spot and a brief review by Roberta Smith of the NYT.