Selected Works

"The Fire Will Remember the Contact."
drawing and looped video installation
dimensions variable

I made 3 drawings by drawing lines vertically and horizontally with a grey pen, as if I scan the printed out image of a candle, following the tip of the pen with my eyes. The areas that did not disappear from the pen lines are the information of the image, and despite the same act repeated on each of the images, the slight differences occur in the images.

After that, I photographed each of them, and simply arranged the three photographed images like 1,2,3,1,2,3 to turn them into the animated image.

"How It May Be Possible to Re-enact Bon Fire 01"
print, colored pencil on canvas
152 × 114 cm

I made drawings over a photo image that relates to fire.

Fire rapidly moves and keeps changing itself, but the practice is to trace this and draw them at an incredibly slow speed. I overlaid the question addressed in the title with the feeling of tracing in a slow motion – as if one gets lost in a city.

I have been working on this kind of practice while changing the subject matters since 2003. The act of tracing in a slow motion facilitates a new way in which dialogues could exist, and it plays the foundational role in my work as a whole.

"Burning Camera (Kyoto)"
print, aluminum composite panel
110 × 165 cm

I took photos while walking around outside when it’s dark – like early morning hours. When I capture an image, I make sure that I use the flash light of the camera and hold up a square plate (approx. 2cm x 2cm) that won't penetrate the light in front of the flash. This leaves the shadow in the centre of the subject on the image, and the shadow prescribes the subject.

I named this work making process “Burning Camera.” If I could take a photo with a “Burning Camera,” I imagine the fire of the camera would illuminate the subject matter; and at the same time, the shadow of the camera would fall onto the image itself.

"Newspaper Skeches of Ocean Waves (Iceland)"
drawing project
variable size

This project is based on an anecdote of Joseph Heco, who is known as the first publisher of civil Japanese-language newspaper in Japan; when he was 13, he was once rescued by an American merchant ship from a disaster (1851). At that time on the ship, when Heco only knew Japanese language, looking at diaries written by the Americans he misunderstood that they were ‘sketches of ocean waves’. One can imagine how this misunderstanding greatly changed his lonely life on the ship.

For the actual artwork I made in Iceland last year, I took a photo of the ocean surface at the local beach, print it out on paper matching the size of the local newspaper, and make a drawing with a white pen on top of it. The drawing references the layout of both the photos and words on the local newspaper published each day, and I published my work every day during the residency period as “Newspaper Sketches of Ocean Waves.”

"Joining Lines (Shigeo)"
single channel Video
variable size

"Joining Lines (Shigeo)" is a video work attempted in 2013 with my grandmother (Sachie) based on the dialogues with the portrait of my grandfather (Shigeo).

The photographic image used in the recording is the portrait with the resolution lowered to an extreme and I traced the grid formed by the edges of the pixels thoroughly with my previously learnt techniques. White fragmented lines traced with closed eyes interfere with the original photographic image to generate numbers of variations.

The picture which represents the closest image of the grandfather to the memories inside my grandmother is derived by presenting these images to grandmother with a question, "Please choose a picture which has the closest image from your memories to the grandfather" leading to her valued judgments of alike/unalike using a knockout formulae.


“Drawing” and “touching” are closely related.

The sensation of touching and being touched are linked, how they are connected changes the feeling one gets from a touch.

The act of drawing is a gesture of trying to construct the relationship between touching and being touched. When thinking about this relationship I think it leads to the possibility of painting as an action.

If someone was to ask me if the sensation I gain from making the gestural marks over an image is the ultimate authentic sensation, I would have to say no. It is merely an authenticity chosen from many omnipresent authenticities, and it is a biased experience at the same time.

I carry out the act of drawing relying on sensations and touch, which is like building a bridge linking me to an image. As soon as I think the act is complete, I realize that I have actually built a wall instead of a bridge. The act of repeating this process is perhaps, for me, the act of drawing.

© 2015 Toshiaki Hicosaka