Zai Nomura: Echoes

When 18 Mar 2021 - 17 Apr 2021
Where Ulterior Gallery
172 Attorney St.
New York, NY 10002
United States

In 1865, young Lewis Payne tried to assassinate Secretary of State W. H. Seward. Alexander Gardner photographed him in his cell, where he was waiting to be hanged. The photograph is handsome, as is the boy: that is the studium. But the punctum is: he is going to die. I read at the same time: This will be and this has been; I observe with horror an anterior future of which death is the stake. By giving me the absolute past of the pose (aorist), the photograph tells me death in the future. What pricks me is the discovery of this equivalence. In front of the photograph of my mother as a child, I tell myself: she is going to die: I shudder, like Winnicott’s psychotic patient, over a catastrophe which has already occurred. Whether or not the subject is already dead, every photograph is this catastrophe.

—Roland Barthes, La Chambre Claire [Camera Lucida]

Ulterior Gallery is pleased to present Zai Nomura’s first solo exhibition, Echoes, from March 18 through April 17, 2021. Echoes, a time-based multimedia sculpture, will debut at this occasion. The artist will be present at the gallery from 4-8 pm on the opening day.

Echoes, built with a large human-scale water tank and a manufactured inkjet printer, is a machine to print portraits of the dead on the surface of water. The micro-computer installed in Echoes sends digital images to the printer that rests atop the water tank, which then prints the portraits on the water’s surface. The images dissolve into the water as they are printed, and the water in the tank is then filtered and purified for the next printing, enacting a process of renewal or reincarnation.

This action performed by Nomura’s Echoes visualizes the death of memory that occurs much later than physical death, while also representing the erasure or removal of images themselves. The portrait that disappears into the water equally evokes the portrait subject’s presence and absence.

Nomura uses photography as his medium but questions how it functions in physical reality. Imageries are always “attached” to their supporting medium and coexist with its base material. By printing the image on the surface of water, even though it won’t be retained, the artist aims to liberate the image from its support. Removed from its existential context, the image is now free, and the artist hopes that it can become more real and tangible—not in spite of but because of its evanescence and immateriality.

During the duration of the exhibition, Echoes will print a different portrait every hour, five times a day, beginning at 1 pm.

Echoes will be accompanied by two other photographs printed on thin steel and floated from the wall. They belong to the series Still Life, in which Nomura captures flowers from the moment they bloom until they wither. The artist uses a large format 4 x 5 camera and leaves its lens open for more than a month so that the whole span of the flower’s life emerges in one image.

For more information please click here.
Image courtesy of the event organizer.