Hitoshi Nomura


Hyogo, Japan, 1945; lives in Tokyo, Japan

In the late 1960s, Hitoshi Nomura watched some cardboard boxes deform with the passage of days and perceived that there were new ways to think about sculpture. This observation resulted in Tardiology (1968– 69), his first known work, in which a tower of cardboard is photographed as it comes apart due to the action of time, weather and gravity. In his work, natural phenomena, time and space are materialized in ephemeral structures and actions, recorded objectively and analytically in photographs and films. Based on this initial antimonumental effort, the artist created artworks about the chemical properties of different elements, recorded everyday conversations in audio format, and registered the movement of the stars. His systematic and methodic work is like that of a scientist, but his reaction to the phenomena creates poetic narratives that tell us about a universe in movement.

For ten years, Nomura carried a 16 mm camera around with him. During that period, he produced Turning the Arm with a Movie Camera, in which two images are recorded simultaneously and later shown together. In one of them we see the artist holding a camera in his hand while making circular movements with that arm; the other shows the image recorded by the moving camera. Space and its occupation are perceived through the artist’s action and body, recorded from different angles and viewpoints. One of the cameras is like an external spectator, while the other is the extension of his body. In the latter recording, there is a more evident representation of time, with a movement like that of a clock or the rotation of the earth – which we know moves, even though we do not feel it. In this small-scale staging, we see the planetary movement and, according to the artist, “we become aware of something that could be called cosmic sensibility.”

Cecília Rocha