March 6 – March 10, 2023
Gallery hours: 8:00am-10:00pm
Reception: March 6th, 4:00-7:00 pm
ArtCenter College of Design
Hutto-Patterson Exhibition Hall
ArtCenter South Campus 870 Building
870 S Raymond Avenue
Pasadena, CA, 91105
A solo exhibition by Jeffrey Sugishita, Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ, will be presented at ArtCenter College of Design’s Hutto-Patterson Exhibition Hall. The exhibition features a single installation work, titled Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ, which consists of a life-size figurative sculpture suspended high in the middle of the exhibition space via multiple strands of wire that sprout from the sculpture in all directions in a web-like formation. The sculpture, composed of driftwood and galvanized wire, houses a light bulb at the center, which remains as a void that allows the viewer to see through the sculpture.
The exhibition embodies the core thematics of Sugishita’s practice- the assessment of the self through physical interactions held between the body, the material, and the surrounding environment. Using driftwood collected from personal expeditions in various natural locations and galvanized wire acquired through commercial distributors, each material presents different properties which challenge Sugishita to investigate his physicality in accordance with the creation of the work. The process of acquiring each material and the artist's personal relationships with those materials become an embodied conversation that emerges in the process of making and transformation, implicating Sugishita’s existence as an individual who traverses the natural and industrial environment.
Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ combines the term phenomenon and noumenon, which are terms derived from Kantian philosophy; while phenomenon refers to any object or event perceived by the senses, a noumenon describes an object existing independently from human perception. Sugishita explores the interactions held between the self, the work, and the exhibition space, as an individual experience (phenomenon) and as a physical occurrence within the space itself (noumenon). Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ invites the audience to experience the physicality of the installation and, upon gazing up at the hovering figure which seemingly gazes back, contemplate upon how their own presence inhabits the proximate space and the greater world.
Insights on Phenomenoumenon II
Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ is an installation piece that strongly embodies the main thematics of my practice- the figurative, the materiality, and the absence and presence of object and form. The work consists of a life-size figurative sculpture suspended high in the Hutto-Patterson exhibition space via multiple strands of galvanized wire that sprouts from the sculpture in all directions like a web and anchors into the walls. The figurative sculpture is composed of driftwood, galvanized wire, and a light bulb that is positioned in the center of the work which remains as a void that allows the viewer to see through the center of the sculpture. The figure is suspended in the air in a stance that seems as if the figure is hovering above the viewer as it gazes downwards. The center of the figure’s head is also an empty void that connects to the hole in the chest area. Pieces of driftwood are fixed around the figurative sculpture as they are entangled in the wires that shoot out from the sculpture in a web-like formation. The strands of wire that anchor the sculpture to the walls of the gallery space not only acts as a functional support for the figurative sculpture, but is integrated as part of the sculpture itself and blurs the line between where the sculpture ends, effectively incorporating the entirety of the display as a singular installation. The title of the work, Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ, combines the term phenomenon and noumenon; both are terms derived from Kantian philosophy- while phenomenon refers to any object or event observable by the senses, a noumenon describes any object or event independent of human sense. Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ is an attempt to understand individual existence and the physical world through the interactions held between the material, the self, and the work, both processed as an individual human experience (phenomenon) and as a physical occurrence within the space irregardless of human awareness (noumenon).
Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ is an installation piece that centralizes on the depiction of a figurative form at the core of the installation. In conjunction with the materiality of the work, the sculpture is an embodiment of how I perceive and experience the world through existing as a human individual. The act of creating the form of the human figure utilizing the collected materials both physically and metaphorically functions as a process of self awareness. The act of creating the form of the human figure also allows me to experience the physical and bodily phenomenon that takes place in the making of sculpture. Simultaneously, I am conducting an examination of my own body as I study and replicate its shape as a sculptural form.
Suspending the sculpture in the gallery space isolates the figure from elements that normally is inseparable from our state of being such as the floor we stand on or objects we lean on, which invites the viewer to solely focus on the form and structure of the figurative sculpture and in turn reflect upon their own bodily state of being. Our brains possess cells called the mirror neuron, which reacts to actions observed in others as if we ourselves conducted the action. By creating a figurative sculpture and placing it within a specific space and position, Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ invites the viewers to cognitively synchronize with the sculpture and in exchange reflect upon their own state of being, similar to how one gazes at their own reflection in a mirror.
The materials used to create Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ represents the physical interactions I have within the environment I reside in, and further extends to portray the societal framework of the current human civilization. The main materials that compose this work, driftwood and galvanized wire, each tell a tale of how I inhabit the natural and the industrial world: the driftwood was collected through a number of expeditions across natural terrains such as lakes and rivers, and the galvanized wire was purchased at a local hardware store. The driftwood is used to construct the core of the figurative sculpture, and the wire is wrapped around the figure, securing its shape and anchoring it in space. The physical properties of the materials- the rigidity and brittleness of the driftwood in contrast to the flexible yet sturdy metal wire- provides me with a research subject on how raw versus processed objects behave differently, and provides insight on the evolution of mankind and the scientific progress that was made over eons. Using materials that have been collected in the wilderness along with bought materials creates a materialistic self portraiture of how I navigate myself in the proximate natural and social environment. The contextual usage of the driftwood as the core of the sculpture and the wire as the confining/supporting structure metaphorically represents how at the heart of my individuality lies a passionate affection towards experiencing the wilderness as an independent organism, while inexplicably being a member of the collective human society. The wires (societal technologies) both act as a confinement that keeps me tied to human society and a support that upholds my daily quality of life (it would be near impossible to even experience various natural environments without the use of a commercial vehicle and public infrastructure). The lightbulb located at the center chest area of the sculpture shares the same energy that runs through the building, physically and metaphorically assimilating the the work (and therefore myself) as an extension of the infrastructure and the larger human network, while also replicating the life force of living organisms which come in the form of electricity. The use of two contrasting materials that depict my interactions held in the natural and industrial world are not meant to critique or praise one another, but act as an examination of how I interact with the various properties of the environment I inhabit, and how my individuality can be derived through this examination.
Absence/presence of object and form
Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ is an installation piece that values the negative space within the installation space as much as the present tangible materials. The figurative sculpture is suspended at the center of the exhibition space ten feet off the ground. By doing so, Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ invites the viewers to enter and observe the entire exhibition space as part of the work, and the spatial feedback that occurs from this experience promotes a reflective contemplation of how one’s body also participates in this space as a positive matter, as opposed to the conventional display method of having works placed flat against the wall or on pedestals, which isolates the work from the viewers. This incorporation of the spatial field within the exhibition space as a point of consideration is rooted in my personal experience of traversing through a variety of environments, such as atop the mountains, amidst the forests, and under the sea, which exemplifies the presence of my body in each scenario and presents an objective view of how my existence as a physical matter coincides with all other objects; at the height of experiencing the sheer physicality of sprinting through the mountains, diving deep into the night ocean- what lies beyond the individual senses is the intuitive understanding of the objective reality of everything everywhere existing all at once as a whole. My practice often revolves around the depiction of a human figure, but my emphasis lies not in the anthropocentric ideology of mankind as the sole proprietor of the universe (phenomenon) but instead aims to express human existence as part of the greater environment (noumenon). The figurative sculpture in Phenomenoumenon Ⅱ has an opening in the chest area that extends up to the head area. The absence of material in this area incorporates the negative space as an active factor of the sculpture, connecting the sculpture to the enveloping space. The absence of material at the very core of the figurative sculpture symbolizes the connection of my existence to the surrounding space, and creates a visual representation of what managed to dwell upon this physical body- a consciousness, a sentience, a soul.