Taka Iimura's "I=YOU=HE/SHE"

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Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, NY (1979)


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Taka Iimura's I=YOU=HE/SHE (New Video at the Whitney Museum of American Art, June 5 - June 17, 1979) places language and the perceiver at the forefront.This video installation treats the live image and the delay of its presentation and completion as a discourse between the viewer and the medium. Ultimately, it is a dialogue with oneself, where the monitor is transformed into a mirror held up to the viewer. The distension of space and time, articulated in real and recorded time, refers to the time/space occupied by the viewer in the exhibition space. Here the viewer is engaged in the process whereby the present is rendered visible in past and future tenses. It is video serving as a semiotic system, a language, articulating signs of the Self (the viewer) which are translated through time and placement into memory and whole sentences (codes) of present memory.

Iimura's art is distinguished by its investigations into language and the perception of words as tenses of the speaker and hearer where the medium (videotape and the television monitor) is treated by the artist as a generator of language both orally and visually recorded. The extrapolation of these concerns into this exhibition space radically reconstitutes the language of video and time as a semantics of the mirror and the self, the image of the self. As with the child when he identifies his reflection, a primary gestalt of the self is constituted through the mirror. Iimura's identification with the image on the imaginary plane comes about through the
establishment of a metaphor to the original mirror of childhood. Iimura's treatment of the live video image as a mirror of the self and language, a metaphor of image and word, creates a dialectic of gestalts in a radical exposure of the medium of video. An exposure of its technology in a recognition of the real and abstract mirror of the monitor's screen, a post-modern "mirror phase" of technology where we see and hear ourselves in differing semiotic codes and global gestalts.

This involvement with how we perceive the image and hear the semantics of the spoken word has been dealt with by Iimura in a remarkable body of work which in its relentless visual and linguistic logic has pursued the dialectic of language/image in video. Such installations as REGISTER YOURSELF: Unless You Register You Are No Person, one in which we record ourselves writing our names, and FACE TO FACE, where we describe the medium as a sequence of reversals, are elaborations of a technology which is not hidden from view but has a direct presence in the perception of the work. Iimura presents and articulates the entire video system as a multilevel
metaphor of the self and processes of perception and the articulation of the self. As in Iimura's single-channel videotapes, such as SELF IDENTITY, where a complex scenario of images and speaker correlations are established through language, the artist has taken the ideogram and transformed it into a semiotics of temporal images. Iimura's discovery has been to recognize the possibilities of language - western language - as a complex perceptual ideogram. The result is a continuous deconstruction of words through the experience of the speaker. Iimura thus formulates in his aesthetic text the possibility of Derridean deconstruction through the ideogram of the video image. In a distinctly post-modern turn Iimura places his theoretical procedures through the self of the artist and the viewer in a dialectic of linguistic discovery by speaking simple words such as "I" and "You" and discovering their great complexity and profundity.