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Ryosuke Cohen: Brain Cell (1985)

related documents:
Vittore Baroni: Brain Cell – The neural collages of Ryosuke Cohen Ryosuke Cohen: Mail Art – Brain Cell – fractal (1997)
Ryosuke Cohen: Mail Art – Brain Cell – fractal (1999)

In these days, Japan has made much progress in economy. So the United States and West Europe have began to protect their own products. The news of trade friction are widely reported by television and press day by day, as you know. Certainly after the war we Japanese became rich and well known as economic animals. Goods made in Japan are overflowing in the world. Japanese cars are used in South East Asia. Many sign boards of Japanese companies can be seen here and there. As a Japanese, I do not know whether this is right or not. However, in spite of the advance of economy, we have not made much progress in culture. Japan is known only for the classics, like Kabuki, Noh plays, bonsai plants, Zen (meditation). Therefore many people of other countries believe that Japanese are mental and meditative people. In our country, art includes ceramics, Japanese dancing, calligraphy, and painting. Even cooking is called art. Art can be said mental, they believe, Contemporary art is in Japan now, but they think the most important and valuable thing is to take much money and time for the work. In the past spirit and effort have raised art itself as a noble and sacred one. These forms are skillfully matched with the ones of statements or exhibitions in a museum or a gallery. People misunderstand that the exhibitions in the authorized gallery are the best works. Besides, in the foreign art news to Japan the target is narrowed down toward the people that agree with art conditions, so we can hardly have correct news. In those days when they opened Japan; in the beginning of Meiji era, the persons returned from abroad led their country, in politics, economy, culture, science and so on. Thanks to their efforts, Japan has been remarkably modernized. But in the field of art, the persons returned from Paris or New York have been respected as excellent artists.

The Impressionists lost the true nature by the current of time and were limited in their techniques. Today art is too mental to feel the fun of itself; the works reported in the Guinness book are very interesting. That’s a vice because they have respected museums and galleries. When Geniuses like Cèzanne, Picasso, Duchamp appeared, they took active participation in the field of art for some ten years. Everyone who wished to be an artist wanted to join their groups, and showed his originality and creative power. Now, as computers and information instruments are much developed, our daily life and circumstances are really changed. Little children operate computers, the world news and economic conditions can be seen through the network of information in a day. These are present sceneries. In this period a genius can’t control the tide of art, I think.

Ryosuke Cohen's Brain Cell Ryosuke Cohen: Brain Cell

In the Mail Art network to exchange a work from one to another isn’t everything. It is most important to join much more people of other countries. Sending to B from A, to C from B, to D or E from C, E sends back to A or D sends back to B or C. This is the way how the network spreads. Once, people believed that art is the product of the privileged classes called artists, so they put up the framed pictures or priced them unreasonably as sales contracts. In their mind they think art is material. I think art is information. The personality and creative power of all the persons who follow it spread as information. We positively use the stamps and the envelopes of others. We are glad to use or offer them. There is no need for us to stress our own originality. It is a change of 180° from the past. The Mail Art network is the most wonderful movement that can solve the various problems of present art and artists: authority, exchange of information, too notional art, mistaken holiness and so on.

Now I am just like a space pilot who is travelling with a spaceship. I am looking for new stars and going on a trip. Each star is a small one compared to the space. The Earth and the Moon, Mars and Saturn are each other different. In the same way, every star has its own difference (personality and originality). But it doesn’t have the light and weight that can control all the space.

Well, I’ll title my work “Brain Cell”, because the structure of a brain through a microscope looks like the diagram of the Mail Art network. Thousands of Neurons clung and piled up together are just like the Mail Art network, I believe.

September 1985, Ryosuke Cohen

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