Still from Rheo (2009) by Ryoichi Kurokawa
© Ryoichi Kurokawa

The Japanese artist Ryoichi Kurokawa composes spatial-temporal sculptures[1] assembled out of sound and image material that has been generated digitally or prerecorded. Kurokawa considers his work to be an audiovisual unity.

His most recent work, Rheo, is performed live within the scope of festivals. It is a 5.1 surround-sound triptych whose three screens are mounted in portrait format – in the style of a panel painting – and in this way accommodate Kurokawa’s pictorial world. On the one hand, he uses details from photographs and video sequences that show brilliantly sharp landscape images and thus represent organic forms in nature. Water in particular is utilized as a figurative and rhythmic element. On the other hand, Kurokawa generates an absolutely digital and abstract world of images. In order to make the contrast between these digitally generated realities and the natural world of images more clearly visible, all of the latter were recorded in HD quality. Kurokawa contrasts these with worlds of sound in which he evokes infernal releases of noise, delicate minimalist plinks, and numerous nuances in between.

As was the case in the previous work Parallel Head (2008), in Rheo, the real and digital images blend to become a large image store. Sound and image appear to be eruptions out of an ocean of audiovisual memories. This visualization of polysensual memories – seeing sounds and hearing images – is the central theme in Kurokawa’s works and can be regarded as an audiovisual language. In contrast to Parallel Head, the images in the current work are not generated or manipulated by means of sound data. Video and audio develop independently and become a flowing whole, to which the title of the audiovisual composition points: the Greek work rheos means flow or stream and recalls the words by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus: panta rhei (everything is in flux).