Numen/For useInterview

Numen / For useインタビュー

We interviewed the Croatian-Austrian artist collective Numen/For use, who will be appearing in Asia for the first time.

Q1) About Numen/For use.

— This is your first appearance in Asia. Thank you for coming to Japan. I think some people in Japan have learned about Numen/For use through this smart illumination. First, I would like to tell you about the artist group NUMEN/FOR USE. What kind of organization is NUMEN/FOR USE? Also, please tell me the origin of the name.

We (Cristoph, Nikola and myself) formed a group in 1998 under the name ForUse. At that time I was still enrolled at the University of Industrial Design in Zagreb and Vienna. “For Use” comes from our work at the time, when we focused on functional and reductive design. A year later, Numen was formed as an artist collective capable of realizing any project beyond the boundaries of industrial design. The origin of the word ``Numen'' lies in the word ``noumenon,'' which was found in the minority literature that people were reading at the time. It is a transcendental object, something that can be perceived without the senses. In other words, phenomenon means something that is opposite.

Q2) About the work

—Please tell us about your previous works and this one. NUMEN/FOR USE produces many works in which customers can participate. In that respect, I hear that this time as well, it's a work that you can enjoy by going inside. However, the material of the work has changed from the previous white tape to black net. Is there any reason for that?

The main reason I changed the material for my work to the internet was because I wanted to create a more permanent landscape. Tape installations were short-lived materials and very site-specific. I used black simply because the material used for the shade net was black, but I found it worked well to emphasize the overlapping net-scape that I was envisioning. Did. I'm already thinking about incorporating white nets and mixed-color nets using yellow, magenta, and cyan into future installations.

This exhibition work “Net Blow-up”
This exhibition work “Net Blow-up”
Tape installation work “Tape Melbourne” (2011)

-Also , this time you will be exhibiting at the tourist destination and port city of Yokohama. Moreover, since the work will be presented at "Smart Illumination," I think it will be a collaboration with many night views (illuminations). When creating your work, what points did you keep in mind regarding the exhibition space? Also, what do you expect from the presentation in Yokohama?

I really like the idea of a "night view." Just like tape installations, the net is best enhanced by illumination. I wanted to isolate the work from its surroundings, create an artificial horizon, and make the whole piece appear to be emitting light from within.Thus, a completely new prototype, the Net Blow-Up, was born. During the production process, the net became a device with independence and expandability, and also acquired new aspects. It appears as a silhouette on a translucent screen that shines against the night sky.

—Please let us know if there is anything you would like the participants to feel.

Through this precious opportunity to exhibit our new works, we hope that the works and the visitors will have a positive influence on each other, and that the festival will become a place where the people of Yokohama can gather and relax. Masu.

Q3) About “Hikari”

—What does “Hikari” mean to you? Please feel free to answer.

``Hikari'' is fascinating, but I often incorporate it into my works tangentially rather than directly as a subject. Light is potentially always important in tape installations where translucent tape is folded, creating an interesting diffusion within the overlapping layers of tape, giving it a unique glow. The net is also semi-transparent due to its perforated structure, allowing light to pass through. I often work with membranes (sheets using thick-film printing technology) and transparent materials that change their appearance depending on the light that enters and its reflection. In stage art works, I believe that starting with the conceptual manipulation of light and shadow is essential to creating the final image. One of the pieces we are experimenting with, Numen-Light, uses lighting as an essence to create subtle disturbances in the endless light-scape. It represents unrest.

Q4) Please give a message to everyone in Japan.

I am looking forward to exhibiting my works for the first time in Japan and Asia. In particular, we have high expectations as we will be presenting two art works (Tape Tokyo/Net Yokohama) at the same time in a completely new region and cultural sphere. We realized that our own feelings are very close to the Japanese character and spirit, so we are confident that we will come to Japan again in the future.


▼ English page ▼


Q1) Thank you for coming to Japan. This is your first time to present your work in Asia. Smart Illumination Yokohama will be a great opportunity for Japanese people to get to know NUMEN/FOR USE and its artwork. Please let me start with a few questions about the artist group, NUMEN/FOR USE. What sort of group is the NUMEN/FOR USE? Where did this name come from?

- We (Cristoph, Nikola and myself) started the group under the banner For Use back in 1998 when we were still in college of industrial design in Zagreb and Vienna. Monicker “For Use” came from our then obsession with functionality and reductive design. A year later we established Numen as a collective identity covering all projects actualized outside the sphere of industrial design.
“Numen” derives from some esoteric literature we used to read at the time – “noumenon” means a transcendental object, one graspable without the use of senses – ie. the opposite of phenomenon.

Q2) Please tell us about your current artwork as well as your past work. NUMEN/FOR USE has produced numerous interactive artwork where the spectators could participate in. The current exhibit also has the same concept in that the spectators can be part of the artwork and enjoy the experience. However, in terms of the material used, it has changed from white tape to black net. Is there any reason for this change?

- Our main reason for this switch into Net objects was the wish to produce a more permanent floating landscape, since our Tape installation was by nature starkly ephemeral and very site specific.The color black is simply the standard shade used for safety nets and it worked well in emphasizing gradients of visibility in the overlapping layers of the envisioned net-scape. We are, however, already contemplating the use of white or yellow-magenta-cyan combo nets in our future installations.

This exhibition work “Net Blow-up”
This exhibition work “Net Blow-up”
Tape installation work “Tape Melbourne” (2011)

This time, the exhibition will be held in tourist part of Yokohama harbor. Also, as part of the Smart Illumination, the artwork will be presented among other illuminations and as a night piece. With that in mind, how did it affect your creative process ?Also, what is your expectation in terms of presenting in Yokohama?

- We really liked the idea of a “night-piece”. Tape installations always looked best while illuminated and for Net to work in the same way we needed to isolate it from the surroundings, to create an artificial horizon and make the entire structure seem illuminated from within – which led to the construction of a completely new prototype for the Yokohama event – the Net Blow-Up. Through this process the initial Net became a self-standing, inflatable enclosure and acquired a new, outside aspect; a shadow- play of silhouettes on the translucent skin of the light bubble against the backdrop of the night sky.
If you have anything in particular that you hope the audience to experience through your artwork, please let us know.
- We expect a good interaction with the visitors and a great opportunity for our new piece to serve as a proper community hammock to the people of Yokohama for the time of the Festival.

Q3) What does “HIKARI” (which is “light” in Japanese) mean for NUMEN/FOR USE? Please feel free to make any comment.

- Hikari fascinates us but we generally don't tackle it directly in our work but rather tangentially – it was always lateently important in the semi-transparent folds of the Tape installation, which has a specific quality of light where interesting diffusions happen in the layers of tape. Net is also semi-transparent by its very perforated structure and plays with gradients of light permeability. We actually often work with membranes and transparency levels relying strongly on light and its refraction through materials.In our theater work we always conceptually start from darkness and light manipulation is crucial in the creation of the final image. One of our experimental objects, Numen-Light, has illumination as its essence, showing a slightly disturbing, infernal capacity of an endless light-scape.

Q4) Do you have any messages or comments you would like to share with the Japanese spectators?

- We are very excited to be exhibiting in Japan (and Asia for that matter) for the first time, especially with the fact that we will present ourselves to this completely new territory and culture with two art-pieces simultaneously (Tape Tokyo and Net Yokohama ). Since we find our own sensibility to be very close to the Japanese character and spirit, we are pretty certain we will be returning in the future.

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