b. 1977, Japan

Mamoru Biography

mamoru is an artist who aims to enrich our lives by drawing attention to the everyday sound that is usually overlooked, in thoughtful and sensitive performances and installations. Receiving a BFA in jazz piano from the City University of New York in 2001, mamoru has since sought to capture and share the beauty of the ordinary sounds that are the by-products of our daily lives. Currently enrolled in the Master Artistic Research course at the Royal Academy of Art/Royal Conservatory of The Hague.

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mamoru’s works are often poignant in their simplicity, revealing the immense complexity that surrounds us at all times. In his 2012 installation for etude no.13 ice stood a fridge with the note: "Please follow the instruction and play the music by yourself" and "Hang an ice gently with your hands. Listen to the drops that the ice makes." In the gallery space were threads handing down with glass jars placed underneath to catch the drops, and to capture the sound they make. Other “etudes” by mamoru include listening to the sounds of crumpled plastic wrap as it naturally unfurls, the sound of a room fan passing over a plastic bag and open plastic bottles, and creating music from a simple plastic straw. 

etude no.39 instant noodles from 2011, was an installation where the visitor was encouraged to perform making instant noodles with an emphasis on the sounds created. This totally consumerist act is transformed into a higher-sensory experience, orchestrated in a unique way by each new person. The installation included a table with the necessary toppings in clear containers and a glass cup for the noodles to allow for a greater sensory experience. The instructions were clearly and simply laid out on the table and on two projections on the wall. Unlike regular instructions that would be found, for example, on the back of the noodle packets, mamoru gives room to breathe and improvise, allowing them to choose different types of noodles and different toppings, and gave instructions such as “please listen to the ‘etude no.1 electric kettle’.” Even this act of waiting for the kettle to boil is transformed into a delightful improvised musical experience.

Part of mamoru’s artistic aim is to encourage others to take this same attitude outside of the gallery. etude no.39 instant noodles was planned for April 2011, incidentally just after the Great East Tohoku Earthquake that devastated northern Japan. mamoru went ahead as planned, but realising that instant noodles were considered an emergency food, decided to start the project noodle bank, in which he appealed for donations of money and noodles from all around the world. He also did a performance where his aestheticisation of the mundane was truly brought out into the greater world. Titled a description of an instant noodles, visitors assembled at the train station and followed him as he bought noodles at a supermarket, and finally arrived at the gallery where he performed his piece according to the instructions. The tension of the people observing silently was palpable; despite their efforts to remain silent they were highly aware that they themselves were unavoidably becoming part of the experience.

A unique style of lectures, called The Way I Hear, are an important aspect of his artistic practice. These highly-researched location-specific performances where mamoru recreates the “soundscapes” capture the ephemeral and fleeting nature of sound. The most ambitious in the series, a composition for the lake and its excursion boat (2013) actually took place on Lake Towada, a lake in Aomori, in northern Japan. Visitors were taken out on a boat to appreciate not only the breath-taking scenery, but the results of mamoru’s sound-oriented research on the area, including interviews with a local historian, fishermen and a meteorologist. The visitors were guided in their experience with a few pre-recorded announcements over the loudspeakers, and a printed program that prime them and orchestrate their aural experience. One announcement concerned a fisherman’s experience on a foggy morning, contrasting with another about a violent volcanic eruption on August 7, 915 AD as the boat passes over the deep crater it made almost 1100 years earlier. Combined with the weather conditions, the other incidental happenings, and the visitors’ own imaginations, a boat cruise is transformed into a profoundly personal experience that can be best described as having musical qualities. Mamoru’s practice reveals the power and beauty possible when we truly listen.

mamoru has held solo exhibitions around Japan including Fuchu Art Museum (Tokyo) and as far afield as Hong Kong, Vienna, Canada, France, and Armenia. He has also travelled around the world for group exhibitions, performances, workshops, lectures, video performances, and collaborations. This includes at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the Ayala Museum in Manila, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, the Diapasson Gallery (New York), the Contemporary Art Center and Tokyo Wonder Site. He was awarded the Tokyo Experimental Festival (First Prize) in 2010, and the Cafe Live Series 2006 Prize at BankART NYK, Yokohama.

Public Collections:Takahashi CollectionDaisuke Miyatsu CollectionIzumi City (Sound work)

Text by Ruben van Mansum 

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