The Works of MARUYAMA Tokio - An Image of the World

CHIBA Shigeo (Art critic)

How do cities survive ? " This is a question that I ask myself. Except for those that have fallen into ruins and weathered away without having been reestablished, cities will remain with gradual changes. What causes those changes is not simple. Some changes come from natural environment-almost unseen, daily changes. Others come from artificial elements generated by humans - for example, large scale redevelopment in some area after its complete destruction. Cities change not only through urban architectural design, but also through various other factors : the lifestyle or way of thinking of people, and, among others, humans themselves.

The reason that I am interested in Maruyama’s works lies in his attitude to artistic activity. He has been keeping his eyes on " trash, " in order to continue to watch and record the metamorphosis in humans, cities, and the modern civilization. It may be only "trash" that directly represents the complication of our civilization as it is, which is intertwined by humans and their urban communities. In other words, only "trash" may embody the complicatedness with a almost "life - size" form. He collects such " trash " and samples from it to create art pieces. He further sometimes introduces its process of creation as an artistic performance.

Various categories that are concerned with his works, such as architectural history, public hygiene, street - watching study, and anthropology, come to mind when I try to characterize his works. However, none of these apply to the works of Maruyama Tokio, because it seems that all the works made from the " trash " are constricted into an " image, " whatever form the works may take. What both the artist himself and viewers actually see, in the works made from various objects or fragments found in reclaimed land, is not just an actual object (trash itself). The artist hopes to form an image from his own works that reflects the life of humans and civilization. The real world, which is composed of humans, cities, and modern civilization, cannnot be grasped as a whole. Thus, he must wish to express such a world through his individual creative image just as a painter does with a paintbrush. If I may say it more accurately, he desires to show a complete form of some image using " trash." Maruyama surely has such wish and intention, I think. Viewers, on the other hand, try to see or feel an image when looking at his works, even if it is vague, by scattering sampled " fragments of the image" on the imaginary screen in their brain. I, at least, cannnot but think so. Metaphorically speaking, he is trying to draw a kind of " painting " in his own imagination, utilizing trash fragments gathered through field work. Consequently, his activity as well as his works are, undoubtedly, nothing else but "Art."

Concerning the phrase, " The World made up of humans and cities, and the modern civilization, " what I desire to say is that " the World " in this phrase is not represented only by the real world in which we actually live, and that the real world is not always everything. Rather, we are sometimes able to feel something other than visible things, even in the real world. I can say confidently that Maruyama also has such sense; when he stood on reclaimed land for urban development or at a waste disposal site, he says, he was able to perceive both the passage of time from past to future and the energy flowing from initial to final point of time. I have been to such kind of place, too. I felt that while I saw the sight of the world of waste as I just witnessed there and, simultaneously, that of an unusual world. The world must not be nothing but " another world " in a literal meaning of the word. Urban cities revive there. " Revive" - I interpret this word to mean the phenomenon that old things are flung toward the future and are reflected there.
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