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Go Watanabe

Born in Hyogo, Japan in 1975. Lives and works in Tokyo.

Go Watanabe made a name for himself with his 2007 series Portrait (Face), in which high-definition of almost feature-less females look back at the view from their light-boxes. The exaggeratedly large eyes, the emotionless expression, and the extremely clear skin suggest perhaps something between human and non-human, such as android, or at any rate, a glimpse into the future. Watanabe makes a point to exhibit several different versions of Portrait (Face) next to each other, allowing the subtle differences to surface- a faint mole, the shape of the eyes, or the outline of the hairline. These portraits were created in a high-definition 3D computer modeling program, and appear to be perfectly symmetrical with a flawless complexion. Although created digitally, Watanabe overlaid photographs of an actual human's face on the surface of the 3D model, resulting in the subtle differences and the unsettling effect of an almost-but-not-quite human face. Furthermore, by printing the imageson the translucent film and exhibiting them in the light-boxes, the figures are no longer merely two-dimensional or fictional,but enter our own place of existence. It is an exercise in where we draw the line of humanity.

Watanabe has since shifted towards a unique form of animation, introducing to his high definition three-dimensional works the element of time to create a new perception of time and space. One landscape a journey from 2011 is a still-life of cups and sauces dramatically-lit from one direction plunging it out of darkness. Slowly, the point of view begins to drift, and individual elements splinter off into space bringing the entire composition into a calm state of dissolution, until eventually the pieces rearrange into a new still-life composition. Watanabe brings life to these inanimate, everyday objects, infusing them with a spirit of their own and reminding us that the world is in constant motion and everything is on a journey of some sort. Watanabe saus that to him, "a journey is anything that takes you away from daily life and allows you to have a special experience of special moment."

Watanabe's 2013 One places / on the room series consists of two animations, both taking place inside an uninhabited bedroom, projected simultaneously on either side of a project screen. Based on the meticulous measurements of an actual bedroom, and accurate values of light and textures, the first video shows bedroom in perfect detail over the course of the day, unchanging except for the single light source from the window. On the other side of the screen, each element in the bedroom goes on a journey of its own- a meteor storm of fragments- that by the end of the video come to rest. The high definition both creates an authentic space, and removes our ability to trust our own perception. 

The Tower of Books from 2010 is an even more simplified interpretation of Watanabe's vision. The duration of the video is a close-up view of an endless stack of books, travelling upwards toward no particular conclusion. Each book has the spine facing away from the picture frame, allowing us to see in high definition the thickness and substantially of each page. As the video progresses, the books start to look as if they are floating due to the space between them, and the overlapping of others. What we first interpreted as a simple pile of books now exists in space with a depth that goes beyond our known reality.

Go Watanabe received his Master's from the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music in 2002.

- Text by Ruben van Mansum

He has participated in group exhibitions around Japan, as well as in China, Korea, Taiwan and Lithuania and has also held numerous solo exhibitions including at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (2010, Japan). In 2013, he was awarded with the 24th Gotoh Memorial Culture Award (Most Promising Talent Award) by the Gotoh Memorial Foundation and in 2014, nominated for the 3rd Signature Art Prize organised by Singapore Art Museum.

Selected works
Selected events