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When You’re Around was the first exhibition in the 99 Melbourne St series that The Wandering Room curated. The exhibition came from a desire to interact with a public that would encounter the work from the footpath, a simple and romantic gesture springing from a need to communicate, whether someone be near or far. An almost therapeutic exercise. Exhibiting were Kristine Dragland and Peter Booth, in a collaborative video work that documented their daily shores and the anxiety or normality found within. The Wandering Room collaborated as an artist group to create a sort of makeshift metronome, using everyday ephemera and found objects. Isao Yamaguchi, an artist who has since returned to Japan, explores the links between communication and technology. In the following pieces, Isao responds to his experience in Australia and the differences in technology between here and Japan. The wooden objects within The Wandering Room observe the goings on outside the window boxes.


4th September 2010


I have been making art works for ten years. I was also in Brisbane for a year over 2008 to 2009. During my stay in Brisbane I met Wandering Room’s members and they asked me to hold an exhibition with them at big window boxes of Melbourne St. That is why I am writing this text.


The theme of my art work is contemporary society. I am sure many things have been changing rapidly in this last era of 15 years. The internet, for example, which allows people to send texts, sounds and images at the same time. Other examples are mobile phones.


Unlike 15 years ago we are now not concerned about “where I am or where you are”. It seems very convenient. We connect with our friends and we can check train timetables or where can we find good restaurants or even lavatories in trains.


However thanks to the system, our relationships have changed but we have not relized the change very well. Our relationships have led to communication in more personal or closed groups than before.


Although in Brisbane people meet together in someone’s house to have a party or something and the mobile phone system is a little bit behind compared with Japan, no Japanese people would hold a party in their own house. In Japan, if you find a friend these days, you automatically will have many opportunities to speak with the friend’s friends and relatives because you have to call the home phone and go to your friend’s house to meet. Also they may go to meet your old friends or relatives. However now, if we connect with mobile phones and the internet, we never meet our friend’s friend. The relationship concludes with just two people: you and me.


These types of relationships sometimes make us cruel, because if one relationship is broken, another relationship is not badly affected. Also other people cannot enter the relationship to calm the players or recover it.


But there is a good side. We can not invade our friend’s private life. In modern apartments, we have our own rooms and our own computers. Thanks to that we can connect to whom we want to contact or we can check information we want to know. We have no need worry about other family members or friends. We can say that we can fly freely anywhere in the world. We can speak freely without pressure from the outside.


Styles of relationships have been changing - even in Australia. We can not stop this tendency. We had better to adapt it. I want people to realize that and think the change through.


I displayed an art work entitled “communication cocoons” at one of the window boxes. I hung 12 cocoons which occupied small windows and solid hatches like an armored car. However outside of the cocoons, there were connections. They were connected to other cocoons by a thin line. It means that we have a hard shell physically but at the same time we connect everywhere in space.


People have two realities: physical and virtual. Virtual has been becoming reality these days.


Wandering Room is a 3 member art group. The idea of making art works and holding exhibitions as a group is very efficient. In Japan there is a famous proverb “gathering three people makes Monju’s wisdom”. Monju’s wisdom means very clever wisdom. I believe they continue to hold exhibitions and to present wonderful works.


I also belong to another three member art group: Zengo Society. If we have a chance to hold an exhibition with Wandering Room, it could be a very clever exhibition, perhaps.


Anyway I want to toast Wandering Room’s whole activities.


Yamaguchi Isao




hairbrush: So have you been checking out anyone walking past?

squash racket: Sometimes, when I’m looking for a potential partner.

hairbrush: I see. Has there been any potentials outside this week?

squash racket: Yes, a Japanese artist... with an akubra hat.. I wonder if he’s into sports?

hairbrush: Hey, I think I know that guy! squash racket: Yeah, but he doesn’t notice me. And I’m always waving to him.

hairbrush: Yeah, I wave at him too, and others. I guess I’m a bit short.

squash racket: Well, don’t worry about being short. Sometimes a short lob is the most effective shot on court.

hairbrush: I guess, I never thought of it that way.

squash racket: Yeah, but what about me? I’m antiquated. An old wooden racket. I look left, I look right and I see new technology. TV’s to the right, communication pods to the left... Who cares about old things?

walking stick and wooden metronomes: Hang on, if you’re old, we’re ancient! What’s wrong with being a little mature anyway?

windscreen wiper: YEAH!

clocks: On the third stroke, it will be 6 o’clock.

everyone in unison: Shut up clocks!!

squash racket: Here comes someone now! Hey mate, fancy a serve?

hairbrush: ... and a lady!! Need a quick hairstyle??!!

squash racket: Didn’t even look sideways...

hairbrush: Keep walking bitch.

ruler: ‘Just like me, they (motioning to squash racket and hairbrush) long to be.. close to you...’ (With a sigh, everyone joins in the song...)

clocks, and wooden objects: ‘Wahhhhhhhhhhh, close to you. Wahhhhhhhhhhh, close to you. Hahhhhhhhhhhh, close to you. Lahhhhhhhhhhh, close to you.’ everyone continues to wave.


From Independent Press


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