meditate on this—shiro matsui

parascope, one installation in two parts
The Sydney Festival
5 - 26 January 2002

The intention of Shiro Matsui's installation is described in its hybrid name. Para means of and beyond, simultaneously belonging to and distinct from, and scope means both a defined zone and to view. Matsui has managed to absorb the essence of place while simultaneously enhancing it by creating structures that both complement and challenge their architectural surroundings and the people who dwell there. The sculptures reflect the rhythms of the city, and this reflection is part of their profound beauty. The first surprise of the Parascope sculptures is that they do not jolt us violently into another dimension or abruptly challenge our sensibilities. There is elegance in Matsui's approach to shifting our perceptions that comes from the subtle trickery of the pieces. Matsui simply reveals what has always been there, by creating a framework that focuses the eye and the mind behind it. lt resembles meditation, the act of achieving the stillness and contemplation that allows us to master the art of seeing. The hard part is doing this in the CBD of Sydney- the two sculptures that form Parascope are site-specific works and were installed in The Strand Arcade and The Queen Victoria Building during the 2002 Sydney Festival. Parascope reminds me of koan, the paradoxical anecdotes used in Zen Buddhism to challenge logic and free the consciousness from lazy generalisations and the notion of fixed truth. Matsui's work is the shape of riddles. Does what you walk past everyday exist without you seeing it? Do you exist without seeing what you walk past everyday? Is something familiar because you walk past it everyday? What is familiar becomes strange when you see it for the first time. When you saw it for the first time, what made you look? Will you only know what you saw when it is transformed into a memory? Matsui is an archeologist of the void, revealing the layers of the unseen and the intangible so that we might have the opportunity to re-new our relationship with our material environment. The void also contains our emotions-the Parascope sculptures are vessels of the emotions. The impact of pausing to play is optimism and good humour, and the reminder that everything changes because of our very eyes, and how clearly we choose to see. A dim sadness is drawn from the way our lives are divided and organised that makes it so difficult to achieve this clarity. Parascope gave me a sense of return to a ch ildlike wisdom that allows us to fly above the drudgery of the everyday by letting the familiar surprise us again, when we choose to embrace our surroundings, and ourselves, in a different way.