Author: Author's Name --- Date: 3/23/97 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC


Narumi Becomes Animal

A Commentary

by Grégory Moulinet

"Turtle cam" presented in 1993 at the Röntgen Kunst Instut in Tokyo was one of the first pieces from Narumi refering to "companion" animals. In the center of the space a circular artificial grass carpet was displayed with an egyptian turtle walking on it. On the top of its shell a micro video camera was fasten on it. Beside the circular carpet a guard was standing by the entrace of the gallery. The same kind of video camera was placed inside the cap of the guard. On the opposite wall two video projectors displayed the images taken by both, the guard and the turtle. Two years later, the artwork evoled to an intense interest in dogs, pet-toys, and pet-foods. In 1995 at Sagacho Exhibit Space in Tokyo the entire space was used to display pet-toys on an artificial grass floor. The public was invited to bring their own pets and let them play with the exhibited materials. In a room next to the display space was showing a video taken by a dog walking in Tokyo's streets.

Narumi's art investigates contemporary mans specific relationship between objects, animals, and modern mythologies of man-in-himself. He defines his work as arising from the point-of-view of becoming animal, becoming dog--in order to re-gaze at the circut of the pet-object and man. The dog becomes a displacement effect which reorganizes mans definition of what is worth looking at and how it is framed. When you see the video report from the dog: you see its constant attempt to make contact with anybody it meets along the street, you share its need as it continously looks for an opportunity to find some food--you can fully sense the dog's deep-seated desire as it sits in front of a butcher's shop--or you can follow the dog's investigation of a trashcan.

The contrast between an artist like William Wegman and Narumi's work is that it does not try to distort the investigations and experiences. Wegman prefers to display the animal/device from the point of view of the artist. Narumi's work foregrounds the animals perspective--when the dog has to deal with a new toy or a simple plastic bag moved by the wind, the dog is not sure about the livingness or the edibleness of what it finds in front of him. The viewer and the artist become a part of the the dog's desire and investigation of the world as a shared discovery--the world as the shared vision of the "canicula," of becoming animal.

Grégory Moulinet

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To see or to walk on the street with the vision of any companion animal would be a experience of "encountering the world". How can we see or encounter the same world with the animals?