Towards a Newest Laocoon

Overcome the lineage of Laocoon.
Return to Laocoon.
End Laocoon.
Work with Laocoon.

2022 Jan

   My work since Covid-19 has been themed around the production style of an "Artist as a Generative Machine". It is an exploration of how to co-create with AI technology and create a new creative style in the midst of its emergence.
AI-generated images clearly have a texture and intensity that has never been seen before, and I believe that they should be verbalized in the same way that terms such as "glitch" were used when digital images were first introduced.

Most recently, I have been working with AI-generated images as the core of my work, and in response to these images, I have been creating new compositions and reconstructions of these output images, sometimes in the form of video.
It is as if machine learning, Adobe and other visual tools, and the artist's handiwork (including computer operations) become equal components of the Autopoietic production circle.
   This concept (Artist as a Generative Machine) was naturally fostered while I was working on drawings in the style of Surrealist automatic writing in a limited space due to my refrain from going out. In the same way that I created my drawings by using the limited space, medium, time, and body in a natural and effortless way, today I feel as if I am using various digital tools to do the same. Today, I feel as if I am doing the same thing using various digital tools. At the same time, I am striving to become a constituent element and a vessel for the production of my work as an artist.
(I don't want to go into specifics here, but it seems to me that contemporary artists of the same generation in Japan have adopted a common generative method of production while adopting a certain style.)

   Now, after Covid-19, there has been a boom in NFT art, which is now being categorized as Blockchain art, Crypto culture art (including memes), Generative art, and other tokenized art. I am particularly interested in Vivid, direct, and emotional expression as visual expression, and expression that deviates from the contextualism of contemporary art, and I am conducting research on these as well.

 I must also mention Lessing's "Laocoon". Laocoon is a comparative theory of poetry and painting, a genre theory in other words. At a time when poetry and painting were being critiqued under the same theory, Lessing argued that poetry and painting should be discussed under different theories because they use different mediums (audio/visual images).

   Later, Greenberg wrote "Towards a newer Laocoon", which promoted the autonomy and purity of painting, and later these considerations led to the exploration of "medium" such as medium-specific, site-specific, and post-medium.

   With the advent of NFT, "art" has become more or less confused. We will have to Towards a Newest Laocoon.

 Covid-19以降の制作は言わばArtist as a Generative Machineといった制作スタイルをテーマとしています。それはAI技術が台頭していく中で、それらと共創し、新たなクリエイティブスタイルを生み出すことの探究です。

 このコンセプト(Artist as a Generative Machine)は、外出自粛により限られたスペースで、シュルレアリスムの自動書記のようなスタイルにてドローイングの制作をしている中で自然と醸成されていきました。具体的には自宅の一部スペースに90*90の画布を敷き、生活の中で手元に取れる画材にてただQuickさを求めて描きます(2020-2021のドローイング作品を参照)。


 さて、Covid-19以降、特に2021年2月以降ではNFTのブームが起こりました。NFTアートはBlockchainアートやCryptoカルチャーアート(ミーム含む)、Generative アート、その他 tokenized アートなどの分類が模索されているタイミングです。私は特に視覚表現としてVividで直・感性的な表現、現代アートのような文脈主義から逸脱した表現にも関心を持っていて、それらも含めリサーチを行っています。

 レッシングの『ラオコーン 』についても触れなければいけません。『ラオコーン 』は詩と絵画の比較論であり、謂わばジャンル論です。詩と絵画とが同一の理論で批評されていた時代に、詩と絵画はそれぞれ別のメディウム(音声 / 視覚イメージ)を使うのであるからそれぞれ別の理論に沿って論じられるべきだということを説きました。後にグリーンバーグが『さらに新たなるラオコーン 』を著し絵画の自律と純粋化を推進し、後にそれらの考察がメディウムスペシフィックやサイトスペシフィック、ポストメディウムという「メディウム」の探究につながります。ジャンルの混交や新たなメディウムが登場するたびに何度も『ラオコーン 』が召喚される歴史があります。NFTの登場により「アート」が多少なりとも混乱している中において、私たちは最も最新のラオコーン に向かわなければいけないでしょう。


  I keep Lessing's "Laocoon" by my side and refer to it for inspiration at every turn in my work. The comparative theory of poetry and painting developed in Laocoon, so to speak, focuses on the issues of word and image, genre, and medium. (I am also interested in the scope of Laocoon itself, the tightly wound serpent itself, Poseidon, Lessing's dramaturgy, the theological debate, and the Spinoza debate (pantheism debate).


  As an undergraduate, I was in the philosophy department. When I told a professor of American art history and art criticism who taught in a different department that I was going to write my senior thesis on Laocoon, he said, "Oh Classic! But I had no way of knowing that if I started with Laocoon in 1766, I would have a long way to go to get to contemporary art.

The accumulation of research, criticism, and theory since Laocoon has been enormous, and its sphere is so wide that if we use Laocoon itself as the subject of our research, we will be very far from the contemporary art theory that we have reached from its genealogy.

  In 2016, I will start my production activities. In 2016, I started my art practice, and I thought that I needed an axis to present my work as an artist. We decided to use "Towards a Newest Laocoön" as our slogan. The slogan "Towards a Newest Laocoön" is a bit of a stretch, but the truth is that we had no other concept at hand. On the one hand, there is no more powerful concept for contextualizing art history, but on the other hand, there is a good dilemma: it cannot be called "Newest" if it is only poorly adapted to the context. This dilemma is (at least for me) the freedom that comes with being an artist.


  My work is mainly about image generation by machine learning and drawing/painting. I feel that there are vast unexplored areas of image generation that are interesting from a medium perspective. Drawing/painting, where everything seems to be exhausted, can also learn a lot from machine learning.

私はレッシングの『ラオコーン 』を横に置いて、折りあるごとにそれを参照して着想を得るような制作スタイルを採っています。『ラオコーン 』で展開されている詩画比較論、謂わばことばとイメージの問題やジャンルの問題、メディウムの問題などが中心です。(ギリシア神話の神官ラオコーン それ自体や、巻きつく蛇それ自体、ポセイドン、レッシングの劇作・神学論争・スピノザ論争(汎神論論争)などの射程にも関心を持っています)


学部時代は哲学科に在籍していました。別の学部で教えていらっしゃったアメリカ美術史・美術批評研究で高名な教授に『ラオコーン 』で卒業論文を書くと言うと、「Oh Classic~!」とおっしゃっていましたが、1766年の『ラオコーン 』から始めた場合、現代アートまでたどり着くには長い道のりが待っていることを知る由もありませんでした。

『ラオコーン 』から連なる研究・批評・理論の蓄積は膨大なものであり、その圏域は広いため『ラオコーン』それ自体を研究対象としてしまうと、その系譜からたどり着いた現代の美術理論まではとても距離があります。

2016年に具体的に私の制作活動が始動します。「アーティスト」として外に発表する段では何か軸が必要だと考え自然と『ラオコーン 』を手掛かりにするしかないだろうということになりました。そして、Towards a Newest Laocoönをスローガンとして掲げることになります。”Towards a Newest Laocoön”というスローガンは大風呂敷に過ぎますが、これ以外のコンセプトが手元になかったというのが実情です。美術史への文脈付けとしてこれほど強力なコンセプトはないと言える一方で、コンテクストに稚拙に乗っかるだけでは”Newest”とは言えないという、良い意味でのジレンマがあります。そのジレンマこそが(少なくとも私にとって)アーティストとしての自由と言えるでしょう。



Statement ver0.2

The art world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved,


Towards a Newest Laocoön


1)  Comparative Theory of Words and Images

The relationship between words and images as poiesis practitioners.

How do we move forward in the debate about words and images?

2)Newest = loss of context, discard, and denial of this statement

3)Digression.To begin with, what is the priest Laocoon, which is also the title of "Laocoon"? 

4) Indeterminacy of depth in a plane 
Even if the form of a two-dimensional painting is not intended to evoke illusion, we seem to aspire to "depth" according to the shadows contained in the image and the size of the form. However, in the images generated using neural networks, it is possible to disturb such "depth" orientation and create new "connotative moments". Originally, the term "connotative moment" in Laocón was used in the discussion of which moment of movement the artist should cut out, and it was suggested that the artist should cut out a rich cross-section that evokes the back and forth on the time axis. On the other hand, in a new connotative moment, the connotative "moment" of the spatial axis is a problem.

5) New image sampling by machine learning
Several specific imaging modes, which have not been verbalized in previous imaging theories, are identified. He attempts to verbalize them and purify them as works of art.

6) "Laocoon" and today's "Laocoon"
Reading of Lessing's "Laocoon" and the books in its lineage, as well as the 2019 edition of "Rethinking Lessing's Laocoon", edited by Lifschitz and Squire. I have been pondering what kind of attempts should be made in Japanese contemporary art, which has been described as a "bad place" due to the fact that art is performed in the absence of a modern foundation.

Reference Text

​ただもう一つのラオコーン Just, one another Laocoon.