Empty Gallery is pleased to present experimental filmmaker Takashi Makino’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. Consisting of a single monumental moving-image work installed in Empty Gallery’s 18/F project space, Memento Stella represents a feature-length distillation of the formal techniques and thematic preoccupations which have defined Makino’s film-making practice to date. Originating from a neologism coined by the artist meaning “remember the stars”, the titular film is a metaphorical journey which explores the origin of all concrete phenomena in a formless, undifferentiated field of elemental matter - not unlike the genesis of our stars and planets in swirls of cosmic dust.
As in Cinema Concret (2016), the source material for Makino’s film consists of self-shot footage of both nature and civilization, gathered during the course of his constant travels. For Memento Stella, this footage includes imagery captured in locales as diverse as the United States, Europe, Japan, and Hong Kong - lending an important cross-cultural dimension to his artistic statement. Makino renders these familiar representational images formless and oneiric through his deployment of super-imposition, frame-rate manipulation, and multiple exposures - sometimes layering up to two hundred images at once. Through this process, footage of snow and water, foliage and buildings, gradually sheds their function as referents to an external world, transforming into swarms of oscillating particles and shimmering clouds of light.
Memento Stella is a rhythmic and hallucinatory experience, pregnant with aesthetic and formal antinomies to be discovered by the discerning viewer: qualities such as depth and flatness, movement and stasis, plenitude and emptiness exist together in paradoxical union. Immersed in this constantly shifting visual field, the spectator catches glimpses of familiar images advancing and then receding into abstraction. Grasped fleetingly, the movement of these ambiguous images seems to dramatize both the movement of consciousness and the shared material origins of all living things. Makino has spoken previously of the importance of this aleatory process - a constant feature of his recent works - by which the final film is created through the union of the cinematic object and the consciousness of the spectator. The critic Annette Michelson once called cinematic form “a metaphor for consciousness”. Memento Stella might be said to represent an iconoclastic, spiritualist-idealist take on this fabled thematic of experimental cinema.
The film is accompanied by an electroacoustic score composed by Dutch avant-garde pianist Reinier van Houdt.
About Takashi Makino (lives and works in Tokyo) Takashi Makino (b. 1978 ) is a Tokyo-based experimental filmmaker widely considered to be one of the most influential Japanese moving-image artists of his generation. After graduating from the the cinema department at Nihon University College of Art, he spent time honing his skills in the London-based studio of the Quay Brothers before moving back to Japan. His unique working process usually involves capturing representational footage of humans, nature, and urban life in various formats and then transforming these images radically during the editing stage. Through a process of layering, superimposition and other formal manipulations, these concrete images blend together into pulsating visual fields of organic abstraction in his finished works.
Makino regularly presents installations, screenings, and audio-visual performances of his work internationally, having appeared in over 120 cities to date. Recent engagements include: documenta 14, Athens, Greece (2017); Austrian Film Museum, Vienna, Austria (2017); New York Film Festival, New York, USA (2014, 2017); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2016); The Korean Film Archive, Seoul, Korea (2016); BFI IMAX Theatre, London, UK (2016); MoMAPS1, New York, USA (2013); San Francisco MoMA, USA (2009); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, USA (2008). In 2012, he was awarded the Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.