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Chiho Aoshima / MATRIX 205

Macromatrix for Your Pleasure

April 22, 2003 - August 3, 2003

Chiho Aoshima: A Contented Skull (detail), 2003; digital print; courtesy of Blum & Poe, Los Angeles and Chiho Aoshima/Kaikai Kiki, Tokyo.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF).

A new conceptual approach has been emerging in art since the turn of the millennium: a spirit of generosity toward the viewer. The three installations that make up the MACROMATRIX exhibition utilize nontraditional forms and cutting-edge technology to offer values long sought and found in art: glimpses of beauty and moments of pleasure.

Beauty and pleasure, experiences that had always been synonymous with art, were suppressed when Minimalism, a vehemently anti-emotional movement, took hold in the 1970s. That beauty has reemerged in art was confirmed by the 1999-2000 Regarding Beauty exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum. And, as the visitor to For your pleasure will experience, sensual pleasure is back as well.

Three concurrent exhibitions by artists from China, Japan, and Canada, explore the theme of pleasure—tactile, visual, and aural. MACROMATRIX will be installed vertically, with Angela Bulloch's sound sculpture placed in the museum lobby, Chiho Aoshima's site-specific digital wall mural on the wall of the lobby, and Cai Guo-Qiang's electric "fireworks" installation located in Gallery 2.

In a complex installation at the Queen's Museum of Art in 1997, Cai Guo-Qiang offered the museum audience a Jacuzzi infused with essential oils to soak in; in Shanghai he conceived an immense firework display for the world's economic leaders at the APEC conference; and at the 2000 Whitney Biennial he offered his in-home services as a Feng Shui consultant. In a variety of aesthetic manifestations, an interest in honoring, entertaining, and pleasing his audience is at the center of Cai's work. His MATRIX installation Fireworks from Heaven is a reconfiguration of a piece originally shown at the 2001 Yokohama Triennale. Strands of light will cascade from BAM's atrium skylight and become enormous illuminated orbs seemingly compressed between the gallery floor and ceiling. Visitors will be able to enjoy choreographed explosions as they relax in Japanese high-tech massage chairs controlled by handheld remotes.

Chiho Aoshima uses a giant printer to create large-scale digital works featuring a unique world of big-eyed girls, hybridized nature, and candy-colored environments. For MACROMATRIX Aoshima has produced a new, site-specific image that is four feet high and nine feet wide. Aoshima is part of the "superflat" movement, a term coined by artist Takahashi Murakami to describe the simplified and emphatically two-dimensional forms that have become the staple of a hip new visual language employed by a generation of young Japanese artists. Aoshima's identifiable style combines state-of-the-art computer-animated illustration, Japanese manga (comics) and anime (animation), and the formal conventions of premodern Japanese prints. This slick mastery of technology camouflages and seemingly G-rates tantalizing subject matter: nude nymphets, bare bottoms, and seductive couplings. Along with her astonishing, highly fabricated palette, it is a successful means by which to trick the viewer into looking.

Angela Bulloch's earliest works were participatory environments that included light and/or sound that reacted to the presence of the viewer. Her most recent projects, which she calls pixel works, combine luminous cubes with an electronic unit that controls color alternation and sequence. When static, the visual effect resembles minimalist sculpture—perfect cubes housed in Finnish birchwood and faced with two panes of glass. In Disco Floor_Bootleg: 16, Bulloch's contribution to MACROMATRIX For your pleasure, the artist uses the signature tune by the disco band Chic, "Good Times." Here a bootleg version thumps out its catchy beat while the animated sculpture pulsates intricate patterns of color and light.

Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson
Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator

The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum is made possible by the generous endowment gift of Phyllis Wattis.

Additional donors to the MATRIX Program include the UAM Council MATRIX Endowment, Ann M. Hatch, Eric McDougall, Glenn and April Bucksbaum, Christopher Vroom and Illya Szilak.

Support for Cai Guo-Qiang/MATRIX 204 Fireworks from Heaven has been provided by Wanda Kownacki and John Holton.