Feb. 19–Dec. 31, 2021
Constructed around a moving strip of paper, this work transforms information in the exhibition space into electronic signals to set various objects in motion. One of Mohri’s signature pieces, I/O has been compared to an autonomous ecosystem where nature meets artifice. With collaboration from poet Sayaka Osaki and filmmaker Woomin Hyun, the installation has now given rise to a video work, featuring reading by a narrator of Fragments for “I/O,” Osaki’s poetic response to Mohri’s piece.
At stake here is the question: What does it mean to perceive a work of art?
About the work
I/O, an installation by Yuko Mohri, is a work assembled from a diverse range of materials including rolls of A4 paper, motors, dust feathers and a glockenspiel. The video was shot on the fourth floor of a reinforced concrete building that stands by the Sumida river in Asakusa. Originally a lumber dealer, the structure was later home to a shoe company until it began to house art and design offices. I/O was installed in one of the apartments after a previous tenant moved out and before renovation work started. Upon entrance, the first object you see in the room is the rolls of paper, drooping down in a W-shaped configuration from two wooden rectangular frames, 200 cm long and 27 cm wide each, suspended just above your head from the ceiling. Close examination reveals the paper strips are being slowly moved by a motor. There are two such constructions. From near the center of each frame a bundle of white cables spread into space, with five light bulbs hanging at their end. Another cable bundle comes out of the frames’ rear, connecting to five feather dusters on the one hand and to five small vibrating motors on the other. The motors quiver on the glockenspiel, striking its keys to make sound. I/O is animated by a mechanism. The paper rolls pick up dust from the floor along with information including moisture and air current in the exhibition space. Read by a sensor, this information is translated into the input/output of electronic signals. The signals are then transmitted to the feather dusters and the glockenspiel, controlling their gestures. The objects’ behaviors, however, remain unpredictable. Incorporating and flexibly adapting its shape to unexpected movements, the work begins to look like an autonomous ecosystem where nature meets artifice. We stayed in this space, recording how the light dramatically transforms the work’s appearance from dawn to sunset with video by Woomin Hyun and poetry by Sayaka Osaki. As Kei Hagiwara reads the poem aloud in his neutral voice, the narration is joined by the faint rustle of the paper brushing the floor and the mechanical hum of the motor moving the paper strips, and the sounds from the outside such as cars and birds. Microscopic signal transmissions, occurring everywhere in the work, combine to generate a rich soundscape.
“I/O” is mechanically operated. Rolled paper scoops floor dust and dirt along with information about the exhibition room, such as humidity and air flow. They are read by sensors and turned into electrical signal inputs / outputs. The signal is sent to the flapping hair and the bell lyre to control the movement. However, the movement is unpredictable. This work, which incorporates even unexpected movements and changes flexibly, can be seen as a unique ecosystem that weaves artificial and natural.
We stayed in this space and left behind the poems of Sayaka Osaki and the images of Gen Umin, showing the works that change greatly from sunrise to sunset. The poem was read aloud in the voice of Kei Hagiwara, who has a neutral sound, and the sound of the paper rubbing against the floor, the mechanical sound of the motor sending the paper, and the environmental sounds of cars and birds overlapped in the background of the reading. The transmission of very small signals that unfolds here and there begins to play a rich soundscape.
Fragment for I/O
We welcomed the poet Sayaka Osaki as a representative of the viewers and asked her to write a fragment for “I/O.” Osaki’s poetry serves as an opportunity for each person to imagine various scenes that reach the eyes, ears, or body. We hope that you will be able to experience a different kind of appreciation from the museum by delivering a video of Woomin Hyun, whose facial expression changes in about 10 minutes, along with the poetry reading.
Click here to download the poetry text.
Fragment for I/O_English version (PDF)
THEATRE for ALL (with Sayaka Osaki and Woomin Hyun) [online]