preview ART



Waste matters

She may have been christened a Neurotic Realist by Charles Saatchi, but TOMOKO TAKAHASHI has no truck with labels. Instead she excavates the private inner world of technology.

Words: Susanna Beaumont

As ‘take-overs‘ go. it was certainly unusual. A few years back. Tomoko Takahashi took up residency in the London offices of a marketing consultancy. Everything they threw out defunct computer keyboards. desktop gadgetry. endless scraps of paper and the inevitable drinks can and sandwich wrappers 'l‘akahashi gathered up. The outcome was (.‘(mi/mny Deal. at floor-level sprawl of detritus the fall-out of six weeks' worth of office life.

'l'akahashi is big on left-overs. A kind of archaeologist of late 20th century refuse. 'l‘akahashi gathers and resurrects what‘s often on the fast track to the rubbish bin. But while we‘re on names and titles. Takahashi wants to get one thing straight: this ferreting through detritus by no way makes her some fin (1e sii’c/e Neurotic Realist. In the latest blast of sharp marketing from adman turned artman. ("harles Saatchi. she has found herself christened with the achineg zeitgeisty label. In Nt‘ll/‘nltt‘ Rea/ism at London's Saatchi Gallery. 'l‘akahashi is one of five artists to exhibit work in a show which supposedly gives us the next ‘ism‘ to signpost us through

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Electrical despair: Tomoko Takahashi’s Clockwork an installation

at Hales Gallery 1998 fact that the innards of computers. cookers and cameras have unseeable. seething interiors of chips. wires and conductors.

Taking a washing machine or a microwave apart satisfies her curiosity. In an age where fingertips trip merrily from the keyboard to telephone buttons by way of switching on the kettle or programming the washing machine. Takahashi steps beyond and interrogates what lurks beneath the plastic coating and below the shiny expanse of white metal.

What may appear as a random arrangement is in

fact a careful orchestration of


Taking the artworld’s pulse.

ARE THE ART terrorists at work once again? Targeting public art works they deem worthy of DIY improvement, their latest street intervention has been made on the giant foot by the Leith-born sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi in Edinburgh's Picardy Place. Each of the outsize toe-nails have been painted a rather fetching red. Much rather that than the addition of bunions, calluses or countless other unsavoury foot complaints.

MEANWHILE ANOTHER ARTIST is not taking any chances and keeping a constant eye on her work. Tomoko Takahashi (see preview, left) fresh up from the opening of Saatchi's Neurotic Realism in London, where she is exhibiting one of her 'chaotic collages' made from electrical gadgetry - is sleeping on the job, so to speak. Fond of working through the night, Takahashi has set up home in Stills Gallery. After initial anxiety about sleeping arrangements - her sleeping bag has been incorporated into the Saatchi installation she has found refuge in Stills' dark room.

THE MODERN INSTITUTE, the Glasgow-based art initiative, is to fling open its doors for a series of projects. Among those artists featured are Victoria Morton and Cathy Wilkes, while on Thu 25 February Glasgow art magazine STOPSTOP will launch its second edition. For further details call 0141 248 3711.

A FEW WEEKS into Glasgow 1999, the bid to give the city a make-over seems to be well underway. Jonathan Glancey in The Guardian commented that the city, which had of late found more fame in the deep-fried Mars Bar than its architectural triumphs, boasted a brilliant building and design

heritage of which it should be proud. Shame then that the ad campaign currently being run by Glasgow 99 is one where the starting premise is full on negativity. The strapline ’It's a pile of . . .’ has

contemporary art. But as 'l‘akahashi succinctly puts it. ‘it is his name. I didn‘t choose it‘.

Neuroscs dismissed.

debris. People can tiptoc around mounds of gadgetry. as if playing Gulliver in a sci- fi Lilliputian cityscape. Wires and minute springs can

'In a way I am carrying on a kid's dream to take things apart. I am intrigued by the mechanism of things.’

Takahashi is happy to talk contemporary technology and gadgetry. For the Saatchi show. a vast stretch of floor space is given over to what could be described as the spewed contents of a technical workshop. Wires trail and snake. the innards of clocks and watches are revealed. televisions and computers ‘skinncd' to expose their inner workings. A previously closed-off world is laid bare.

‘In a way I am carrying on a kid‘s dream.‘ feels 'l‘akahashi. ‘to take things apart. I am intrigued by the mechanism of things.‘ ()n arriving in Britain in 1989. 'l‘akahashi. 32 years old. was thrilled at the prospect of putting plugs on electrical goods. Back in her native 'I‘okyo. plugs were ready-attached. It is the function of things that appeals to her. as well as the

Tomoko Takahashi

appear veiled with menace or

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turns. Avenues of circuit boards and nameless technical hits and bobs could easily masquerade as models of scenes of the world to come.

However 'l‘akahashi is not keen to root her work in millennium anxiety. a nervousness that technology could fail us as the clocks tick to 2000. ‘I am not really making a comment. the work is made of components of the present.‘ she says Takahashi. Yet you can't help but feel her work is a telling expose of the blood and guts of technology and a trash-happy society.

Tomoko Takahashi is at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh Tue 26 Jan-Sat 27 Feb.

the vital word overlaid with 'genius'. What, we wonder, is the obscured word?

Pop talk: STOPSTOP‘s reinterpretation of the Undertone's hit 'Teenage Kicks'

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