Hiraki Sawa: Lenticular
Japanese artist's first solo exhibition in Scotland
There's something quietly starstruck about the subject of 'Lenticular' (2013), the new film work by Hiraki Sawa, which forms the centrepiece of the Japanese artist's first solo exhibition in Scotland. Robert Law is a self-taught astronomer who works at Dundee's Mills Observatory, where Sawa filmed this cosmonaut of inner space, going about his business of exploring other worlds with somewhat archaic-looking machineries of joy. The result is a six-minute portrait of one man's parallel universe that is counterpointed by a domed facsimile of the observatory, which comes complete with meditative projections and an ambient score that suggest the ultimate chillout room.
It's a telling insight into Sawa's playful sensibilities, in which after-dark, magical-realist dream states conjure up imaginary worlds. The word 'lenticular' describes something that is lens shaped. As Sawa focuses in on assorted obsessions in both wide-screen and miniature, the physical space left between each piece is telling.
In 'Lineament' (2012), a vinyl record unravels and goes through walls and doors as a man attempts to recapture the threads of his memory. While this is spread across two screens, the film's soundtrack is played by record. All of this is synchronised with 'Lenticular', so each plays in turn rather than over each other in a grown-up, sub-Lynchian affair.
'Aurora' (2013) gives its one-minute mirror image of the Northern Lights a wide-eyed depth, and the five-film 'Souvenir' (2012) becomes a vivid set of sense memories, but an even brighter sense of wonder prevails in 'Inhere' (2004), 'Unseen Park' (2006) and 'Elsewhere' (2003). The first two pieces have been made with children – Sawa has spaceships fly through washing machines and goldfish bowls in 'Inhere', and a whole fleet of origamied-up, make-believe vehicles flying high in 'Unseen Park'. In 'Elsewhere', toilet rolls and other domestic objects come to life. It's as if the culprits behind the Cottingley Fairies hoax had taken over an after-hours toy shop and reimagined the world anew.
Dundee Contemporary Arts until Sun 5 Jan 2014