null*” is a project unit by “artless” based in Tokyo. Having a concept of “Japanese aesthetic sense”, which is latently accumulated in Japanese people living in Japan, they present graphics in various ways including typography, photography, illustration, painting, interactive products and videos. They are not chained to the media establishment. Following the two exhibitions at “PRINZ” in Kyoto and “COMME CA COMMUNE” in Tokyo in 2005, their 3rd exhibition was held at “SOSO” in Sapporo during on March 2006.

Shun Kawakami and 13 other members of “null*” took a flight to Sapporo the day after giving a speech at “ELECTRICAL FANTASISTA” in Yokohama. “null*” was a big unit consisting of 15 designers and artists. 14 including Shun Kawakami participated in this exhibition. What a sumptuous day it was! All the participated members gathered at “SOSO” for the opening.

However, “null*” was totally modest in spite of the sumptuousness, and didn’t show fussiness at all even though their each schedule was tight. The word “null” in Japanese has a meaning of “tepid”. They also share a concept to enjoy themselves “softly” and “comfortably”. So, the 14 members at the opening got mixed with the visitors and they all spent a relaxing time together. Their natural self was tepid (null) and cool. Even Shun’s daughter, so cute and adorable, was walking around taking a leading part at the venue.

As an opening performance, one of the “null*” members Akira Osawa charmed people with his overwhelming live painting! He dynamically put colors on the all members’ graphic pieces, which was hung on the main wall. One person appeared on the painting and his existence just could not be ignored as a core of the exhibition after that. “Our life is dramatically changing every moment” it stated.

Well, the word “null” also means “zero” “empty value” “valuelessness”. Under the idea of Shun Kawakami that he wanted to do “graphics with subtraction”, this exhibition had “x0” as a concept, meaning that all numbers become “0” by multiplying “0”.

First of all, there were poster graphic works with numbers from 1 to 14, lining up from the entrance sequentially. For this exhibition, Shun Kawakami gave each number to the members, and made the whole works “null” by multiplying zero. All graphics at the venue included the accurate concept connecting to each number, from Akira Osawa’s piece of which himself “1” multiplied infinite zero to +39’s work which implied “14” members of “null”. Themes such as incomplete, falling, losing, coming into being, a boundary, disappearance, virtual, etc were present. Sometimes a number showed the connection to the next number. The exhibit was complete looking at all 14 works as a whole, while each work was also individually formed with strong originality. These 14 works as the second “null*” collection were on sale at the opening day.

I really didn’t notice until I was conscious of the concept of “null*” that Japanese original materials like Pachinko (pinball game) graphics, Japanese map and cherry blossoms appeared on these works in a novel and fresh way that wasn’t just “Japanese”. It was such a natural and conceptual aesthetic sense not dependent on visual impact, familiar with us Japanese, yet nothing that we have ever seen. As Shun Kawakami said at the interview in previous SHIFT issue, it is really interesting to know how these senses are reflected in other lands, and that is the reason we want to keep our eyes on the International projects “null*” will develop from now.

Moreover, this exhibition also had two interactive works reacting to a camera, exhibited at “ELECTRICAL FANTASISTA” in Yokohama.

One of them was “Atmosphere (decomposition)” by +39 (KARATE SYSTEM). This is a piece “which dissolves dimensions of vacancy and is transmitted by way of a camera. Spatial awareness is expressed in the form of the extraction of a changed part’s colors.” Unfortunately, I have no idea at all about the details of the program, but in short, this is a piece that reacts to a space projected through a camera, and that dots are coming out from the moving part of the space. I sometimes moved my fingers hard in front of the camera trying to reach its maximal value, other times I felt to be found as just the piece reacts to my movement far away where nobody would usually notice. It emphasizes movement of the space and actions we usually are not aware of.

Another one was “Factoral Dots” by Takashi Kamada (.spfdesign). Compared with the above piece reacting to the space, this piece has dots detecting environmental sounds and forming visuals. “Adding sound (+) erases dots (-), then the phenomenon itself becomes a deed that forms figures (+). This is an example that null’s concept “-=+” is embodied.” If you clap your hand, or shout, the visuals are formed at random to the sounds. Sometimes fickle like a creature, it kept dancing to the BGM at “SOSO” during the session, adding a delightful crispy movement in the space.

SHIFT cover on March issue by “null*”, which was updated before starting the exhibition, continued counting down during the session. Regarding the end of the exhibition as “0” destination, the cover also presented the concept of “x0”, and the whole exhibition was complete with reaching “0”. Each part of the poster works was seen in the dots forming the letters, and the cover was working as both the preview and review of the exhibition.

A significant concept and the connection between the minimal look and deep content made people stop and imagine. Not just the works talk to us in one way, but it is required and naturally brought out our active thinking and action. The more you find out, the more you enjoy. The more you chew it, the better taste you get. That was their graphics and the exhibition.

*NULL*posters and book are available at “SHIFT FACTORY“.

null* in sapporo Collection : “x0”
Date : 11th -31st March, 2006
Open: 11:00 -21:00
Place : SOSO
Address : 1F Sansei Bld. S1 W13 Chuoku, Sapporo, Japan
Tel: +81-11-280-2240
Supported by PRINT’EM

Text: Yurie Hatano
Photos: null*

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