Hybrid Art

Anerkennung - Honorary Mentions

imaginary rhetoric

Soichiro Mihara (JP)


In a cross-cut section of wood approx. 4cm in diameter, a motorized screw rotates every few minutes, back and forth several times from 30 to 120 degrees. It pauses briefly and then starts to rotate again.

I would like to thank everybody who failed to notice this artwork in nature and those who did not regard it as a work of art. This work does indeed represent a departure from the traditional artwork and the exploration of a new perspective. The majority of people simply enjoyed the environment, without worrying whether it was art or not. Some people were captivated by the natural light or the temperature, others by the real birds chirping nearby. Even when exhibiting in different environments, the responses I received from people were similar: "Is this birds singing?" or "How do they communicate with each other?" It was obvious that they had misunderstood my intention, so every time I replied: "This is primarily about screws and trees " and "There is nothing in this work that can be called intelligence". This work does not aim to imitate nature it challenges people to reflect about the discrepancy between perception and reason.

Originally, this work is the fourth and final part of the blank project by the artist following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. All four works focus on the void left by natural and artificial disasters - a blank space signifying the unknown future. In times of crisis, the same old rhetorics are often repeated. The theme of part four of the blank project is dialogue and decision-making, and I began to examine the words of human beings especially those of representatives of society. But in order to enjoy the freedom of art, I quit dealing with these literal motifs and neutral definitions of dialogue. Inspired by my visits to Fukushima and several other nuclear disaster sites, including Chernobyl, I may have been subconsciously searching for something beyond human communication.

The use of this device is not just arbitrary it may be another subconscious giveaway that I grew up in Japan. At the entrance of a shrine there is a gate, or “torii”, which literally means “there is a bird” in Japanese. In Japan, birds symbolize the entrance to another world, just like an arch of branches traditionally forms the boundary between profane human space and the sacred world. So I decided to use the bird as a motif for communication toward non-human beings - not by using technology to imitate or reproduce a bird but by equally genuine imaginary singing. The word “rhetoric”, which forms part of the project title, sometimes implies ‘no meaning at all’. The program enbedded in the device can specify the speed and the angle of the motor control, but not the chirping.

With this imaginary rhetoric, human beings, birds, other living things, and the environment may share a similar misunderstanding. As a human being, I see imaginary rhetoric as something we all have in common. On the whole we neither know nor understand each other.


Soichiro Mihara

Soichiro Mihara (JP). Aiming to make art that openly engages with the world, Soichiro Mihara creates systems employing a wide range of materials, media, and technologies such as acoustics, bubble, radiation, rainbow, microbes, moss, and continually questions the “here and now.” Since 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, he has been working on his blanks project, which explores beyond the boundaries of the systems that drive modern society. He has also been collaborating with musicians, artists, electronic instrument engineers, and haptic researchers. He has shown several of his awarded projects internationally and in 2015 he participated in the “Elements of Art and Science” Exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center Linz.

Support received from Tsushima Art Fantasia, Kyoto Art Center Artist in Studios program,
Special thanks to: Hirabayashi Makoto, Chiaki Ishizuka, Daisuke Kuroda, Fumi Saito