Merging the minimum constituent unit for both digital imagery and biological organisms, 'PixCell' (Pixel + Cell) is conceived as the key proposition of the work by Kohei Nawa. Devising the use of new materials and techniques, Nawa activates artificial materials with chemically manufactured interfaces evocative of living organisms. This incorporation of the natural and the artificial conjures a renewed animistic sensibility that challenges our visio-tactical experiences. Given that nature and artifacts are assembled from particles, his sculpture makes no distinction between solid and liquid, and is shaped according to gravity and other universal laws of physics. Just as living organisms behave according to their DNA, particles follow their own innate properties. Nawa engineers conditions that allow particles to begin auto-generative processes, and to sculpt the exhibition space continuously.
Central to this exhibition is Nawa's long-standing sculpture series LIQUID (2003–ongoing): an installation of endless cycles of eruptive cell bubbles emerge on the surface of a liquid compound of silicone oil, metal powder, and pigment. These bubbles spring up and disappear one after another—each of them articulates a unit of the phenomenon caused by particle motion, and constitutes an element of its entirety. This closed circulation of the liquid evokes magma and blood, and due to the high viscosity of silicon oil, illustrates the movement of the material at a speed deceptively slower than the viewer's expectation. The electrically controlled pool becomes an interface that amplifies visual impact, and a flat circuit for the 'Pixel', which infinitely produces cell patterns. An orderly grid formation appears as a digital matrix, while closer observation reveals irregularities such as the sporadic and simultaneous effervescence and plosive sounds breaking the surface tension. Viewers are immersed in an audio-visual sensation brought by a series of these events.
For Nawa, the white cube has been a site for enacting primordial natural phenomenon using today's synthetic compounds. This can be seen in the linear black oil that continues to flow (Force 2015–), and a multiplied expanse of foam grown to an oppressive scale (Foam, 2013). Striping all materials down to the molecular level, his elemental sculptures visually manifest physical laws, appearing as biological membranes that bind our perception with the substance. Consolidating conceptual oppositions such as the real and the virtual, the micro and the macro, the natural and the artificial, Nawa in this exhibition challenges the boundary between life and the artefact.
Press release courtesy SCAI The Bathhouse.