SONY GARDEN

2000 – 2001, (low-tech reconstruction, video object), 290x 250x50cm

Another attempt made by the nomadic development designer to penetrate the structures of a big supranational company was connected with SONY. The aim of the project was not to develop a new unique product but to communicate, via the means of sponsoring, the clash between historic and modern identity that occurs within technically developed countries. The evolution of so-called “western civilization” bases its ideals on the development of hi-technologies that create a “modern identity.” Thanks to information technologies, the problem of “global non-identity” came into being. It is possible that the more a society modernizes itself, the further it removes itself from its original “historical identity.” Consequently, I tried to erase this contradiction by means of “experimental mutation.” SONY represents a symbol of Japanese national identity (similar to Honda, Suzuki, or Panasonic). It is, however, also a supranational company that has a strong globalizing influence. From this can been seen that the design of Sony electronics is beginning to lose its Japanese identity and is beginning to resemble the designs of other world firms. However it is a paradox that, despite this fact, Japanese pride in their new modern “identity” persists (maybe thanks to robotics). Compared to the modern identity, Japanese historical identity has much that is highly original to it. Japanese culture, arts, elaborated social customs, martial arts, etc. create a distinctive picture of this particular country. The contradiction between the historical and modern identities creates in the technically advanced countries waves of openness towards global influences and, on the other side, attempts to shut off these influences. The Sony Garden project aims to test to what extent the two opposite identities can in fact draw closer to each other. I envisage that the end result could evoke a unique sensation, stemming directly from that combination of both identities’ influences. However, at the same time, the parallel would somehow veil the concrete nature of both of these identities and cause it to lessen; a kind of faded Disneyland, a ghost of a lost garden could appear. In connection with the Sony Company, I had in mind a vaguely subversive collaboration. This was not intended to be a conspicuous and easily identified anarchy, for that could result in the company taking a firm stand and forbidding further collaboration. Instead, I was interested in subtly disturbing the thought structures of the company, through a precise destructive method. I like to term this approach sophisticated deconstruction. My communication with Sony began with a request for their collaboration in the art project Sony Garden. This garden was supposed to be an object that would express that which was finest about Japanese art in connection with their traditional identity. I offered the company the chance to participate in the development of a “modern” Zen garden, stating that their logo should be included in the final realization. Since this was to be a garden “produced” by Sony, the company should be given aesthetic license where the design was concerned. The company’s sponsorship initially took the form of a donation made to me of top-of-the-line electronic goods. These I took literally to pieces, working with precision to minutely destruct the monitors, video recorders, printers, CD players etc. that they had given me. The larger pieces I crushed with a grinder. The resulting “electronic gravel” took the place of the sand in the “Sony Garden.” It is interesting to note that silicon or granite sand was traditionally used in Japanese gardens. Silicon is now the most important component used in the production of computer circuits, processors, etc. Despite this, the final appearance of the gravel I had manufactured was in fact more akin to granite. The traditional large, decorative stones used in a Zen garden were replaced with Sony monitors, the screens of which relayed a lackluster video documentation of the physical process undertaken to transform hi-tech electronics into the neutral, gray gravelly substance used in the garden. I like the irony in the fact that what we see on the screens is a video recording of the destruction of video. In this sense it can be called “anti-video.” The film itself does not aim to convey any message to the viewer. It is neutral, lacking any story. As such it is close to Zen.

BRAND NEW RUBBISH

Thanks to the unusual contacts of one girlfriend, I attained the financing to purchase electronics from one unnamed sponsor. With this money gift I set off to go shopping in a shopping center that sold this sponsor’s goods. I purchased a wide selection and afterward threw everything in a garbage bin in front of the shopping center. I had two employees from a security agency watch over the bin so that passers-by wouldn’t steal the contents before they were taken away to the dump.