‘The Allegory of Mrs. Triangle’ – A dialogue between Noriko Okaku & Paul Sakoilsky to co-incide with her inaugural exhibition, ‘Serpentine’, At RED Gallery, London. 21 February 2011
Paul Sakoilsky: Hi.
Noriko Okaku: Hello.
Paul Sakoilsky: For the moment, I would like to concentrate on your most recent film, ‘The Allegory of Mrs. Triangle’ which we have on show here at RED Gallery, along with two other films, and three wall based works, in the downstairs gallery.
Can you firstly, tell me something about the genesis of the film? How did it begin?
Noriko Okaku: I had an opportunity to do an artist in residency in Denmark in the Summer of 2010 for 3 months, at a place called The Animation Workshop. So first of all, I had time to concentrate on my private work. I wanted to make a video showing fragments of reality. I started with an imaginary character called, Mrs Triangle and made a video of fragments of her life, but the video gradually turned out to be my self portrait.
Paul Sakoilsky: I’ve got two questions. When you say, “I wanted to make a video showing fragments of reality’, I am curious, as to how you see this work, which is fantastical, phantasmagorical even, in many ways, how you see this as being connected with reality? The ”reality’ of which you speak? The ‘reality fragments’. This really revolves around how you understand the artwork’s relation to the world at large? Secondly, although this is obviously connected, you say it is a self-portrait, could you elaborate on this?
Noriko Okaku: To answer the first question, I am always fascinated by the idea that each person has different ways of seeing things. (I think this connects to the theme of misunderstanding or miscommunication. I think for me, as a Japanese person living in London, I see this more often…maybe). Anyway, so first of all, the basic idea was about showing one thing, in this case Mrs. Triangle, from different perspectives to express the way in which a given thing is always constructed out of different fragments. I was working on images of her going shopping, eating, singing etc… as if I am an observer of her life. And I think this can be a universal reality that relates to everybody. To answer the second question, I then started to express more about feelings rather than activities such as going shoppping or singing. So naturally, I used my own feelings as a reference, and in that sense I feel that the work became a self portrait. But still I believe that this can connect to people in general, because even as I started visualizing my own feelings, I remained concerned with observation.
Paul Sakoilsky: Where does your inspiration for the image or the collection of images come from? I mean, to oversimplify here, there is an evident connection , at least on an immediate level, with Surrealism? The Surrealist concept or notion of the marvellous (put forth so brilliantly by Benjamin Peret in his essay/text ‘A Word from Benhamin Peret’).
Noriko Okaku: I am sure that I am influenced by Surrealism. But actually I invented my way of constructing animation without knowing about the Surrealists – I found out about Surrealism afterwards and realised they are dealing with the same themes as me. They were very inspirational in a technical and conceptual sense. So I have been influenced by them since.
Paul Sakoilsky: Visually exciting, one might term it post-psychedelic, the film is actually quite disturbing – and I mean this as a compliment. There is also a kind elegiac quality, a sadness? Would you say this is true? Mrs. Triangle seems to be stuck in a world of things, of objects, which I cannot help but relate to the world of late-capitalism, a world of commodities, and the commodification of the individual?
Noriko Okaku: Well, this may be true, because it comes from my feelings. But there is also happiness there. Excitement even. I have conflicted feelings in my mind. I wonder if you see any exciting feelings in Mrs. Triangle…? I haven’t thought how Mrs. Triangle refers to the world of late-capitalism. But I am sure that it can be! Because we come from this era.
Paul Sakoilsky: Well, yes, I would agree. The film is also exciting – or perhaps, the word you mean is joyous, celebratory? It is both things at once – that is, I find it simultaneously joyous, exciting, yet also elegiac, tinged with sorrow, sadness, (the latter is also brought into play by the music score) and also somewhat disturbing. But as I said earlier, this is a compliment not a criticism. And here, in many ways, it seems to me, you have answered the initial question, regarding ‘reality’, the film/work’s relation to reality and – as a related point – the point about it being a self-portrait, the self and the other. Or rather, the film, once understood in this way, answers such questions itself.
The musical score is obviously an integral element of the work. Who is do you collaborate with, and how did this come about?
Noriko Okaku: YES! The composer is called ‘gameshow outpatient’. I met him through friends. I told him about my idea of Mrs. Triangle – before I even started working on Mrs. Triangle, so it was hard for me to explain what is happening in my mind. But he understood my intention and he offered to work with me. The sounds in the musical score have 6 different colours according to the number of Mrs. Triangle’s fragments. And these colours are played together when Mrs. Triangle appears in her entirety.
Paul Sakoilsky: As I thought – as seems evident from the work itself, it is actually highly structured – and the sound and its syncopation with the moving image is very rigorously constructed. Although his work is very different, this rigorous combination of sound and moving image reminds me of the films of the Austrian artist and filmaker Thomas Draschan, whom I have already mentioned to you. You should certainly take a look at his work, especially as you are about to start a residency in Vienna.
I would like to return to the idea of the Self-Portrait, or rather, the use of your self in the work. When I watched the film before starting this dialogue, I was lookiing at the figure of Mrs. Triangle, and was thinking that’s you isn’t it? Something which you then told me was the case. Your work is all based on traditional stop-gap animation techniques, and is obviously very labour intensive. How long did it you take to finish Mrs. Triangle? And what was the methodology? But I am kind of more interested here in how you view the use of your self, of the body in your work? We also find this (or rather you, your hands) in another film we have on show here, called, ‘tetete’ (2010).
Noriko Okaku: Yes I had a basic structure to begin with, which involved fragments appearing one by one and gathering together towards the end. So it was helpful for me and him to work on this piece I guess. as he has a similar taste in music as I do in visual arts. I spent the entire 3 month residency in Denmark working on this – but I couldn’t finish by the end, so I continued working after I came back to London for another 3 months. I couldn’t work as intensively as in Denmark though, because I had to work on different projects in London. The body of Mrs. Triangle is me, you are right! I took pictures of my body moving in sequence, printed these pictures out, coloured them, cut them out and used them as material in this stop frame animation.
Paul Sakoilsky: There are also three framed assemblage-type works in the exhibition, composed of jewellery and jewellery-like pieces made from images directly relating to ‘The allegory of Mrs. Triangle’. Do you always make such artworks? Or is this something new, something specific to this film/project?
Noriko Okaku: This is an absolutely new thing to me. I wanted to take my animation out from the TV monitor or projector and present it in a different dimension. I used the actual cut out collage materials I used for the video works to make the jewellery.
Paul Sakoilsky: Okay. Many thanks. What is your next move? Your next project? Y55ou are about to start a residency in Vienna?
Noriko Okaku: I am doing a live visual performance at Red gallery on 25th Feb. it will be a new performance piece. And, yes, I’m doing a residency in Vienna from May for 2 months.
On Friday 25 February, the last day of her inaugural exhibition at RED, Noriko Okaku will premier an audiovisual performance piece based on drawn and collaged animation, complimented by a soundtrack by Matthew Glamorre (Matt Hardern).
Link to video: ‘The Allegory of Mrs. Triangle’:
RED Gallery, 1-3 Rivington St, London, EC2A 3DT.
Copyright: paul sakoilsky 2011