The Pandemonium of Images


Masayuki Tanaka


In the past, around the time when communication theories based on the structuralist notion of semiotics were popular, communication was said to be founded on code. A code was share between sender (speaker) and a reciever (listener), and it was assumed that the sender's signals, based on that code, were deciphered and their meaning understood by reciever. But this static and somewhat simple model is no longer taken as an article of faith. above all, this is due to the fact that code alone is not the determining factor in deciphering signal (or sign). For example, as suggested by the term "context effect." even when a sign or signal is the same. in a different context, it's meaning can change dramatically. Moreover, the reciever is not merely a passive entity but plays an active role in producing meaning in association with certain context. Thus, the meaning contained in a sign or signal is closely connected to a particular place, and according to what is created on each occasion, the formation of meaning might be seen with only a slight exaggeration, as a kind of "incident" or momentary event. This way of thinking offers an important theory for explaining the formation of meaning in sign or signal, but at the same time, it also indicates the possibility that no meaning has been formed, poses questions regarding what the sign or signal represent, and suggests the possibility of suspending it's decipherment (for example, in circumstances in which a context that should be related cannot be determined).

 vision is in the place a fregmentary event that is linked to a particular moment, and the difficulty of tailoring these momentary (and fragmentary) "incidents" to a single painting containing unified scene is problem that artists have faced ever since the emergence of Cezanne. And while signs and signals produce a diverse range of meanings their production can also be discouraged, and a single visual image can be received, developed, and confused in a variety of ways depending on many different factors. Ishii Tomohito takes these problems as the poin of departure in his work. When an image is prodused from specific visual date, it is by no means constricted to one deducted, integrated image through a previously determined category. By right, images should develop infinitely like a diverse range of scenes reflected in a "compound eye" If these images are further transmitted to other people in the process of communication , the diversity of their development is further accelerated. And if noise gets mixed into the communication. the images may also become confused. While confusion arises, this realm of images continues to develop without a telos (destination) for any decided images. Ishii's works invite the viewer to this type of world, thrusting us into a pandemonium of visual images without any presumptions regarding the formation of an integrated image.


αM Project - Complex Circuit press release. 2011









 αM Project「複合回路」プレスリリース 2011年





The Compound Eye


Tomohito Ishii


It Is impossible to simply preume that images are based on visibe entities (anything that is presented). The visual world is constructed out of date that emanates from the outside and is translated inside And the translation that occurs within the body from the eye to brain can be linked to the transformation of visual date into an image. In the concept of of "image and signal" designed to be interpreted through a set of two picture, a photographic reproduction can be seen as an objectified vision achived through a painting, and a conscious contrast between a "visuality associated with an instantaneous response derived from light and color" (signal) and a "visuality that leads from recognition of an image to the structuring of a space" (image). On a visual leve, the qualitative difference between the objectified element of "image" and "signal" are suggest by comlexity of visiable date and the potential that exists for it's translation.

In addtion I have adopted the "compounf eye" as an approach to dealing with a complex information environment. The "compounf eye" is a primitive metaphor for the acts of seeing and feeling. I see it as something that foreground the issues of the signal-like nature of visual information and it's reception, and as something that synchronizes with physical sensation of receiving a degital signal. And metaphor of the "compound eye" is also connected to the mystery of visual complexity that is contained within the "image/signal".

In facing a painting, I bring the delicate touch of making contact with the world. I'm attempting to express a pictorial vision through my own type of philosophical model.


αM Project. Complex Circuit artist statement. 2011










αM Project「複合回路」アーティストステートメント 2011年


























ある事象が多様な解釈に開かれること自体は、絵画に限ったことではない。だが石井の関心は、絵画言語において生じる解釈の多様性と、それが生じる場にある。たとえば”Window (plant)”は、鉢植えのある庭と思わしき光景が三つの異なる視点から捉えられ、フィルムのコマのように縦に繋ぎ合わされている。この作品では画面の地やモチーフの抑え気味の色調に比して、その上に置かれた鮮やかな色の斑点が、イメージの余剰として前景にせり出してくる。これによりイメージとシグナルとの関係に亀裂が生じ、平面であるはずの絵画は深みをもち、不透明な空間の厚みが私たちと絵画空間の間に現出する。この厚みこそ絵画形式特有の「窓」であり、私たちの既成概念や対象が拮抗し、諸差異の産出される場なのだ。












「未来の家」プレスリリース 2017年

The Suburb as One's Home Town

Ryo Katsumata (art critic)

Tomohito Ishii once dug a hole in an empty lot in the suburban town he grew up in. What may appear to some as an act of digging down to reach earth's strata of yesteryear as a nostalgic scheme to imaginatively recover the home town he lost when development of the new town began, I, for one, believe that was not the case. For Ishii, it is none other than the suburb that is his home town. A typical description of a suburb is that it's scenery is indistinguishable from other suburbs. While, in a way, the nondescript nature of suburbs may be true, the memory of a scenery or a place is not etched into the actual scenery or place itself. The memory resides in a person's home. While the scenery may indeed be the same with other suburbs, to the person growing up there, it is also special. 

Perhaps this impression of the suburb with its duality is what has unshackled Ishii's creative process from having to fulfill purpose into nostalgic sentiment. The phenomenon of the expansion of suburbia can also be seen as a utopian movement of taking the diverse external spaces existing as individually distinct cultures and absorbing them into a homogenized yet unified inner part, an intervention similar to the colonization of foreign land and forceful assimilation. That is why Ishii often draws potted plants. Instead of drawing plants in its natural form, as enclosed ecosystems characterized by their environment, he draws artificially-produced plants, as interchangeable substances that can be transplanted anywhere. And the plants are drawn as though they are self-portraits. The distorted outlines are misaligned yet overlapping, guiding imagination as a produced structure, showing the rawness in its digital patchwork of lines, surfaces, and colors lacking synchronization. It is as though it is saying reality can be found in that hollowness. 

“House of future” Press release 2017





作品《卵に対する植物の応答》(La réponse de la plante à l’oeuf)が、パリを拠点とするアートアソシエーション「ILYAURA( イリオラ)」とパリのアートスペース「The

Window」のパートナーシップを記念して発表された。2013年10 月5 日、第10 回ニュイ・ブランシュ・ア・パリの夜である。


作品《卵に対する植物の応答》とは、ここに在るはずのない窓を創出し、時空間の裂け目に遭遇するすべての人々を未だ嘗て見たこともない関係性の中に投げ入れるための「装置」である。アートスペース「The Window」を取り巻く環境全体を「複数の大きな窓のある場所」に見立てるリアルタイムの映像インスタレーションである本作品は、フランス在住の二人のアーティスト、石井友人とマノン・ハロワ(Manon Harrois)の相互的な対話の中で構想された。筆者がイベント参加者と共同構築した「不思議なケーキ」の周縁が一つの中継点となり、そこに設置されたコンピューターが、異なる場所をオンラインで繋ぐ。フランスのランスとストラスブール、日本の東京と、2013 年第3 回目のニュイ・ブランシュが開催された京都という四都市がパリの「The Window」と結びつく。「The Window」は、正面が窓、三面が壁であるが、窓となる。それぞれの都市には、こちら側にいる私たちと対面し、抽象的、哲学的、現象的あるいは身体的な即興ダイアローグを繰り広げるパフォーマーの姿がある。


東京とストラスブールに接続された窓では、色彩と形に関する記号的• 抽象的対話が繰り広げられる一方、京都に開かれた窓では、産み落とされたが誰にも届かなかった無数の卵を救済するように、ひとつずつを丁寧に箸で掬いだそうと無為の試みに没頭する一人の女性の姿が映し出される。女性の試みは一向に成功しないが、彼女はそれをすることを止めはしない。彼女は、生きていなかったはずの卵が、ごく時々は生命を伴って鑑賞者のもとへ届くことがあったように、無為に見える彼女の救済が、いつか有りもしないような奇跡に繋がっていると始めから知っているのだ。




パラ人 「Parasophia au Monde」2014




Body's History


Tomohito Ishii


Due to rapid development of our environment of information and resulting homogenization of diversity in values, we may  have come to an illusion or an empty sense of reality.

It  makes us feel as if the whole existence of human being consisted of multiple kind of information, and we were surrounded by a fake reality, a reality made of paper.  It is true in a sense, and it perhaps will be.

One of thoughts I have had for ten years is that, though we were surrounded by a fake, paper-made reality, we find in fact a raw, naked reality when we come around and see the other side of the fake one.  As a matter of course, humans have body and the surrounding environment is made of physical matters.  The reason of my way of description in spite of this face is that we humans feel in some level the desire or necessity to get back the reality, or we actually feel the reality.

When I understand my painting as a representation of such a desire, I can say it is a reconstruction of my personal catastrophe in reality.  It is an act of taking the fake reality apart, and reconstructing it piece by piece again. 

Painting is the generation of images through the relation of the body and the material, and every image has its own touch. One of the strong motivation for me to paint is based on the fact that there is a large difference between images we find as already made and images generated by the body.  The bodily aspect in painting derives from the fact that the body itself is a medium with its own memory and history.  My body contains my own history, the history of my parents, and all the past ancestors.  That doesn't mean I own these histories as mine (for example, in the form of memory as a brain function), but this idea of the body's history is an important element when I practice painting.

The central interest in my painting is the relation of the bodily aspect characteristic of painting with the collective memories contained in various existing images (found in photographs and movies, for example).

My way of creating works has been based on the fundamental act of "painting what I see."  Images I use for my painting can be classified to several groups such as photos I took myself, existing images I found on the internet, and the ones I created through digital processing.

All existing images keeps a trace and a fragmented piece of time which used to belong to what once existed in the past.  I can say that I have an access to others, society or fragments of historical process.  I put together these fragments together, find a new relationship between them, and translate various meanings of the images and information I gain through the visual perception into painting, which is another language made of vision and the body.

Reconstructing memories is one of my important themas. I would like to quote my brief artist statement from one recent exhibition in which I proposed the concept "dreams".


The exhibition title "Day Dreaming" means an accidental and lyric experience of imaginary association issuing from memory caprices. For me, this title "Day Dreaming" supposes the ensemble of massive images such as scenery after a mild flood washing everything away, where there exist no more rational time series, existing significations and attributions and possessions, but remains a certain fluid and floating possibility (or possible way) to reconstitute a new memory.

It is through this process consisting of meeting of images gathering and dispersing each other, as well as establishing  superimposed intersections of memory and oblivion, making us languorous with an apparition of a mirage in the summer.

You will find yourself alone in the day dreaming, feeling an odd sensation between active and positive experience regarding our imagination.

(from the artist statement of "Day Dreaming" Paris Rivoli 59.2013)


One of the most important passion for painting, is, for me, to wonder how a human concerns the world.

Touching our surrounding again means nothing but an indispensable way to reconstitute the reality after a catastrophe. 


Artist statement. 2014

















展覧会タイトルとして採用された「Day(s) Dreaming」とは、記憶の戯れからなるイメージの想像的な飛躍を体験する、という意味が込められている。「Day(s) Dreaming」とは、まるで緩やかな洪水の後の様な豊穣なイメージ郡を想定しており、全てが押し流され、既存の意味や時系列、あるいは所有関係を離れたイメージ群 (記憶)を再構成する、流動的な過程を含意しているようだ。

この流動的な過程 において、集合しつつ離散するあらゆる不可避的イメージの遭遇が、我々の思い出/忘却とが幾重にも交差する場所を作り出し、そこにはひょっとすると記憶に対する茫洋な空間(真夏の蜃気楼)が立ち上がっているのかもしれない。


 (2013年8月 Paris Rivoli59 グループ展「Day(s) Dreaming」からの引用)





 アーティストステートメント 2014年







わたしの家のお手洗いのドアにはブルース・ナウマンの「Body Pressure」のインストラクションが貼ってある。

































Excerpt from “A Hole for a Landscape, and a Smell of a Hole”

Tomohiro Masuda, Curator of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo


For this exhibition, Tomohito Ishii presented a video art that documented his “hole digging” performance at an empty land in Tama Newtown(1), where he was born and raised. Tama Newtown is the largest housing project in Japan that aimed to construct a residential complex at the outskirts of Tokyo. However, the project was abruptly discontinued during the middle of the construction phase, leaving a portion of the territory unattended for decades. Produced by mixture of dirt and concrete, the thick surface layer of this artificial ground is extremely solid and impenetrable. Each time Ishii forcefully dug the earth with a shovel, a sense of futility accompanied the shrill sound of metallic clank. One felt the sense of futility because the developed land conceals the ancient memory that the region is known to preserve. When the sea level rose during the Holocene glacial retreat, the Tama hillside remained a dry and resourceful land for the prehistoric culture of the Jōmon period (12,000 BC – 300 BC) to flourish. Since archaeologists have discovered numerous ancient remains, Tama has been acknowledged as a historical site that stores the memories and spirit of the antiquity. However, the landscape in which Ishii physically and painstakingly engaged himself was artificially constructed by piling up soil, dirt, and concrete, layer upon layer. One may dig in, but no relic of old or recent past can possibly come out from such barren earth.


After he laboriously dug a reasonable depth, Ishii threw himself naked into the hole. Similar to many of the residents of the Tama Newtown, Ishii’s family was originally an outsider to this neighborhood. Although Ishii was born in Tama, he cannot feel a strong bond to the local community. Therefore, the fertility of “hole digging” and the ludicrousness of the naked body in this artificial landscape, which his video work represents, is the portrait of the artist, the residents of the Newtown, and perhaps of modern human, who’s existence is alienated from the memory of region. For the residents of the Newtown, Tama’s original and primordial scenery is no longer accessible, because it is buried beneath the Sanrio Puroland(2) Theme Park and other commercial infrastructures. Or perhaps we can argue that the Theme Park has become the region’s original scenery. People who can criticize this alteration as terrifying are blessed because they have a home to return – a home that is isolated from the suburban shopping mall and the touristy sites of the old town; home that are free from the capitalist society in which any criticism against the spectacle is no longer effective. Or they are blessed because they are unaware about such state of our contemporary society.




The sense of hope and despair was already recognizable in the photographic image of weeds that Ishii displayed in the exhibition Railroad Siding(3) that was held last summer. The photography captured weeds that grew at the empty land of Tama Newtown, where Ishii performed his “hole digging.” It’s earth, which is mixed with gravel and cement, was thought to be too barren for any type of vegetation to grow. However, after his performance the soil turned soft enough for the plant to sprout. The image of this nameless grass seemed extremely bright to me. I wonder how high and rampant the plant would grow, especially after it has inhaled the odor of the hole. Or rather, now that we have dug the hole on the ground, it became our mission to make a flower bloom. Like the protagonist of Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle(4), we now have a strange blue mark on our cheek.




(1)Tama New Town Project – the largest residential housing development in Japan, which was launched in the 1960s. The development involved a massive land reclamation that destroyed old settlements and villages. In 1971, the first population moved in to the newly built residential complexes.


(2)Sanrio Puroland – an indoors themed park that opened in Tama New Town in 1990. Puroland is known for its attractions, events, and merchandise that use popular Japanese characters such as Hello Kitty. The park is often compared with Disney Land.


(3)A Railroad Siding ― a biennale format independent exhibition organized in 2015 by artists and critics.



(4)The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – a 1994 novel written by Haruki Murakami. An empty well appears throughout the story as a symbolic motif. More than a structure to withdraw underground water, the deep hole represents an imaginative channel that connects life and afterlife, past and present, Japan and China. The protagonist’s cheek is bruised after he enters and passes through the well.



「風景のための穴と穴の匂い」 より抜粋










それでも希望 、あるいは絶望は、昨年の夏、石井が引込線の展示の際に提出した雑草を撮ったイメージに徴候的に表れていた。その写真はかつて彼が多摩ニュータウンに掘り、そして埋めた穴の跡地とそこから映え出した雑草を写したものだ。砂利混じりの不毛な大地のなか、穴の跡地、つまり掘り返されて土が柔らかくなった部分にだけ、雑草が生え始めたのだった。その名もなき雑草の姿は、私の目にはとても眩しく見えた。穴の匂いを吸いこんだ雑草は、これからどこまで高く伸びるか、どこまで茂ることができるのか。というよりも、穴を掘りおこしてしまった以上、そこに花を咲かせることが私たちの使命となった。『ねじまき鳥クロニクル』の主人公のように、私たちの頬にはあざができてしまったのだ。



「わたしの穴 美術の穴」展覧会カタログ    2016年





Excerpt from “The Distortion of the Hole, I Tumble Down – at the Hillside”

Tomohito Ishii


The spatial vacancy and the topology of a hole reminded me of a particular motif. And this topology seems to be the main motivation for me to visit and perform “hole digging” at this specific site. I associate the spatial properties of a hole with a motif of a potted plant. While a pot strongly suggests the constraints of artificial space, it also shows the functional capacity to internalize every possible materials or substances. The uniqueness of a pot is that it transforms plants, a static living organism rooted in a ground, into something transferable and mobile. And this mobility is guaranteed by the closedness of the pot. What fascinates me most by associating the motifs of a hole and flowerpot is their shared topology of discontinuity and continuity generated by the emptiness of space.

Sometime ago I became strongly interested in ordinary houseplants that are cultivated and displayed in pots, whether they are situated indoors or outdoors. Observing these plants that are displaced from nature and transplanted in people’s dwelling environment made me feel that something significant was occurring. I felt that these plants were the alter egos of the people who inhabit the same space. 

The association between hole and pot suggested a hypothesis that our human lives are also grown and nurtured in an arbitrary closed environment. In other words, because people were deliberately transplanted in this artificial space of Tama hillside, our existence and human agency cannot neglect people’s arbitrary intentions. I assume that this is the reason that I cannot take my eyes away from houseplants. Pots represent another form of artificial orifice that can contain anything; a potted plant symbolizes our human lives that have been transplanted into a different space.


「 穴のねじれ、転がり落ちるわたしー丘陵にて」より抜粋 
ーところで、穴は空虚さに満たされたその空間性によって、トポロジカルにあるモチーフを連想をさせた。そして、そのトポロジーはわたしがこの場所に向かい、穴を穿つ根源的な動機を示唆しているようにも思う。それは鉢植えの植物についての連想である。鉢は人為的な空間の限定性とその潜在的な充填可能性をわたしに強く感じさせるものだ。その特性は地面に根付いている植物たちを人為的に移動可能なものにする。そして、その移動可能性は鉢の閉鎖性により常に担保されている。わたしが 穴と鉢の連想において、何よりも惹かれたのはこの空虚さが生む、断絶と接続のトポロジーだったように思う。
「わたしの穴 美術の穴」展覧会カタログ、2016年





昨年、世田谷にオープンしたアーティスト・ラン・スペースXYZ collectiveの同世代のディレクターから、共同で展覧会を立ち上げないかと声をかけて貰う機会があった。毎日毎日、美術作品の制作に明け暮れていた私は、自身の制作における純粋な動機・批評精神をもとに、純然たるシンパシーを常日頃から感じ続けていた作家や書き手と共に、新たな美学的視座を孕む、絵画的可能性を問いかけるような展覧会を組織しようと決意した。それは、ひとつのユートピア的な空間を形成していく作業に思えた。









「Pandemonium」プレスリリース 2012年
















 「Pandemonium」展覧会冊子 2012年




「from/to #3」WAKO WORKS OF ART








よって、この二連画は、彼自身の内/外に関する知覚を表裏一体となって現している。これは、彼がタイトルに「信号 Signal」と付すことからも窺える。これは「パソコンにおけるデータ」という意味合いで引用されているそうだが、シグナルとはそうした単なる電気的波形のみならず、絵画を描く際の契機をも意味するのだろう。自我と他我とを結び得る符号としての作品。そんな、彼の作品は、絵画を描くという本意すらも超え、我々が世界を認識するという所為がどういうことなのか教えてくれる。


美術手帳「Gallery reviews」2005年