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Shizengaku exhibition at St James Hatcham, February 2013
Shizengaku exhibition at St James Hatcham, February 2013

In 2009 Seian University of Art and Design and Goldsmiths, University of London established a partnership. It is designed to enable students and staff of both institutions to pursue academic and artistic collaborations of mutual interest. This current project called SHIZENGAKU has been initiated by the Fine Arts Department of Seian and the Music Department of Goldsmiths as the first of a series of collaborations. Both universities have strong traditions of combining theory and practice, and this project will also interrogate that link itself, suggesting a possible division between ‘theory of practice’, ‘theory for practice’ and ‘theory as a kind of practice’ – where insights arising from conceptual understanding increase the possibilities of experience and suggest future practical pathways. The exhibitions and installations that arise from this work will emphasize public access and foster impact at both national and international levels. The proposed participating members for this project are internationally recognised artists and theoreticians. They are:

Prof/Dr Shuji Okada (Oil painter, Seian)

Dr John Levack Drever

Dr Mariko Kaname (Aesthetician, Seian)

Kazuto Yamamoto (Aesthetician, Seian)

Anthony Pryer (Aesthetician)

Dr Naomi Matsumoto (Project Instigator and Coordinator)

For the schedule of forthcoming and past Shizengaku events, click here

To download the flyer, click Shizengaku e-flyer

To download the press release for the exhibition, click Shizengaku Press Release

SHIZENGAKU is the Japanese title of Aristotle’s Physics, and it will investigate, through Painting, Sound Art and Theoretical illumination, issues arising from Aristotle’s separation of the natural world from man-made objects (is this true of Found Art? Sound Art? Nature Paintings?), his views on change in the physical world (the decay of our understanding of artworks?), his denial that chance events can be causes (the relevance of those ideas for our notions of creativity?), and his insistence – against the Atomists - that there can be no true voids in nature (are there no complete silences in music? no truly empty canvasses in art?). The project will further attempt to break open the connection between art and nature by juxtaposing two types of artifact (visual art and sonic music), two types of critical engagement (the practical and the theoretical), and two types of cultures (British and Japanese).  The two artists will collaborate to create a site-specific artwork which incorporates visual and sonic materials. The oil paintings of Shuji Okada employ grisaille technique which has certain affinities with the pseudo-naturalisms and reversals of a photographic negative – his paintings will be modeled directly upon technologically manipulated photographs of natural landscapes found in Japan. Analogously, John Drever’s sonic artworks will bring together the intrinsic qualities of natural sounds and the complexities of environmental soundscapes, sculpting them through recording and editing (using classic musique concrète methods) to facilitate responses and engagements with the auditory environment. All the participants will then explore through public debate the ever-problematic relation between human creativity and nature.  This project is the winner of the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Award in September 2011. Also it is supported by a generous research funding from Seian University of Art and Design.