Streaming Surface unites various aspects of Moko Fukuyama’s multidisciplinary practice that spans filmmaking, sculpture, and installation, addressing topics of labor, subjectivity, and constructed realities. For this exhibition, the artist centers filmmaking as the subject to probe the idea of “surface” as a space of contact and content, beyond cosmetic layers. * Fukuyama abstracts elements of a film set, turning the labor and materials that are typically used to create a filmic atmosphere into the work itself. Unfolding as a multi-media sculptural installation, it considers filmmaking, at times humorously, through its material and temporal conditions, physical production, screen texture, and its role in perceptions of reality.
The exhibition includes a set of twenty-eight faux wood grain panels that the artist hand-painted throughout the month of February 2022, an homage to the date paintings of the late conceptual artist On Kawara. Rendering an accurate facsimile of wood grain is one of many skill tests that scenic artists must pass in order to be inducted into the labor union, thus gaining access to a modicum of job security. Wood veneer or plywood, fairly inexpensive materials in and of themselves, become costly through the labor needed to falsify them for set dressing. In order to achieve success in this process, Fukuyama experimented with a combination of paints: fine arts acrylic, house paint, and Mixol. The final panels, installed chronologically and leaned against the gallery walls, serve as a meditative exercise and a symbol for the precision of a specialized creative force, while signaling to the outsized role of art, media, and entertainment in the contemporary visual landscape.
The installation further mediates layers of reality through an installation composed of theater lights, mylar, fake wind, LED lights, and video projection. Fukuyama projects a studio mock-up of the installation onto the final version displayed in the gallery, collapsing the light source, content, and fabrication process into one physical space. She uses consumer LED lights and the video projection to illuminate the installation, questioning how this relatively recent shift in lighting technology has impacted current textures of visual perception. Also featured in the exhibition is a single-channel video animation of a character created by the artist in her own likeness, and modeled after the popular LoFi Girl YouTube channel, for her recent film American Recordings, Act I: American Harvest, which debuted at The Kitchen in 2021. Fukuyama, as LoFi Girl, writes at her desk while an aerial video documenting a performance at The Kitchen, in which she deconstructed and remixed elements of the American Flag, plays outside the window. Set to a soundtrack developed by Fukuyama’s collaborator, Yo! Vinyl Richie, the video is an intimate space of contemplation integrated into a collective media environment.
Together, this presentation of Fukuyama’s work echoes Guiliana Bruno’s research and consideration of surfaces as the “connective threads” that extend beyond superficiality, providing crucial information for transference and communication.* Streaming Surface captures the invisible and often physically demanding labor that undergirds the film and entertainment industries, in confluence with the materials that construct identity and environments intended to emulate reality.
* Bruno, Giuliana. “Surface Encounters” E-Flux Journal, no. 65 (May 2015): https://www.e-flux.com/journal/65/336354/surface-encounters/.