Ambient Kyoto: Brian Eno Stages His First Large-Scale Exhibition in Japan

If you live in Kyoto or are trav­el­ing to Japan in the next two months or, who knows, maybe you have a whole lot­ta miles saved up on your cred­it card, Bri­an Eno has a career-span­ning exhi­bi­tion going on at the for­mer wel­fare cen­tre of the Kyoto Chuo Shinkin Bank.

The above live stream record­ing fea­tures a selec­tion of pre­vi­ous­ly released ambi­ent work, along with a pan­el of Japan­ese “Eno Experts” chat­ting about the musician/producer/artist/thinker. They play selec­tions on vinyl, show clips from rare Eno doc­u­men­taries, even man­age to dig up a LaserDisc of Thurs­day After­noon and a CD-Rom of Head Can­dy.

Ambi­ent Kyoto is Eno’s first large-scale exhi­bi­tion in Japan, and fea­tures the instal­la­tions “77 Mil­lion Paint­ings,” “The Ship,” his con­stant­ly shift­ing “Light Box­es,” a stream of “The Light­house,” Eno’s SONOS chan­nel of his unre­leased archive, and a new work called “Face to Face,” which the exhi­bi­tion site describes thus:

This work began with a small group of pho­tographs of the faces of 21 real peo­ple, each in a sin­gle still image. Using spe­cial soft­ware, the image slow­ly changes pix­el by pix­el from one real face to anoth­er. This cre­ates a long chain of “new humans” between the real faces of each and every one, such as those who did­n’t actu­al­ly exist, inter­me­di­ate humans, and more than 36,000 new faces, 30 per sec­ond. can do.

Yes, you say, that’s all very nice, but what’s on sale at the gift shop? Here you won’t be dis­ap­point­ed. There’s vinyl and CD albums, an exhib­it cat­a­log, t‑shirts, tote bags, and box­es of Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strate­gies. And only in Japan can you get this: a box of Japan­ese sweets designed to look like one of his light instal­la­tions.

The exhib­it is afford­able (around $20) and you can stay as long as you like. Eno con­tin­ues to fas­ci­nate and make art in spaces where he’s often the first to start exploring—-certainly in terms of ambi­ent and gen­er­a­tive art he has been a pio­neer. In an inter­view near the end of the eight-hour live stream he describes his career:

“I just don’t see any­body else doing [these instal­la­tions]. And I know it’s pow­er­ful. So I think wow, I’ve got this all to myself. So instead of shoot­ing arrows at some­body else’s tar­get, which I’ve nev­er been very good at, I make my own tar­get around wher­ev­er my arrow’s hap­pened to have land­ed.”

Learn more about the exhi­bi­tion here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Lis­ten to “Bri­an Eno Day,” a 12-Hour Radio Show Spent With Eno & His Music (Record­ed in 1988)

Bri­an Eno’s Advice for Those Who Want to Do Their Best Cre­ative Work: Don’t Get a Job

Bri­an Eno Lists the Ben­e­fits of Singing: A Long Life, Increased Intel­li­gence, and a Sound Civ­i­liza­tion

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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  • Kalo says:

    I’ve vis­it­ed the instal­la­tion in Kyoto and was rather dis­ap­point­ed. It’s a small space and all in all not very inven­tive — the music is ok, but the same as always, computer/synthesizer drones going on for­ev­er — chant­i­ngs in a Bud­dhist or Shin­to tem­ple / shrine are done since thou­sand and more years. The pro­ject­ed images are fine — if one doesn’t expect more than 80ies or 90ies ‘com­put­er­ized’ art. It’s all a bit old fash­ioned and 20$ is ask­ing a bit too much.

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