In a world where ancient Greek text is projected onto a floor and can be read by pushing revolving doors, it becomes clear that art is taking a road less traveled. This is the world artist Satoru Takahashi has created with his internationally recognized installations.

Satoru Takahashi, a professor in the School of Art & Design, will be delivering a talk today at the Michigan Theater as part of the Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Visitors Series. He will discuss how body movement, memory and place all function in the production of his works.

Takahashi’s artwork is anything but flat. After all, the attempt to investigate how the self interacts in various environments would be even more challenging if we were restricted to two-dimensional forms.

These questions are the seeds from which multiple perspectives blossom through the use of multimedia. Takahashi’s multimedia approach has given him the tools to investigate rhetorical questions such as “who are we?” and “Where are we going?” through a modern lens.

The uniqueness of Takahashi’s artwork relies on the physical placement of the installation. In one of his earlier projects, Takahashi used bookshelves to form a library in a forest, which was later moved to a gallery space and then transformed into an underground library in an olive garden in Japan. Geographical space as well as interior versus exterior space are all factors that alter the installation’s effect and reinforce the idea that his work is site-specific.

“Each place has a very specific connotation and meaning, automatically people try to look at the piece in connection with the context, the history and the story of that site,” Takahashi said.

Audience participation is also a crucial component in shaping the viewer’s experience of the work. Takahashi’s installations are often exhibited in large open spaces that allow people to walk around.

“People can move, and people can watch,” he said. “People can feel the movement of time, and the body movement in space.”

In 2007 Takahashi collaborated with Japanese and German artists and researchers at the Kyoto Art Center in Japan. Installations were set up throughout the center to create the idea that art is a way to enclose memory. In one such installation, pictures and passages from encyclopedias were projected onto the area within a corridor. Paintings by Alzheimer patients were also put on display in another area of the center. The idea was to create a space full of accessible memories.

“I was trying to change the way of looking by inspiring people’s past perception,” Takahashi said.

Takahashi’s next project will explore how memory can be enhanced by forming concrete images from abstract patterns. The installation will allow Alzheimer patients to visualize images using constellation patterns and their own life story. Inspiration from this came from the 16th century Italian architect Giulio Camillo’s who created a memory theater that had architectural characteristics.

If Takahashi’s art takes a road less traveled then it is only appropriate that it remain unconventional and that it continue to push the boundaries around what we deem art.

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