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Meech Miyagi & Mikko Lautamo @ Axis

Mikko Lautamo, still from "Agro", 2013, TV, mini mac, 29 x 53"

 

Like a lot of artists these days, Meech Miyagi and Mikko Lautamo look to science and system theory to explain human behavior.  Miyagi, a sculptor, investigates neurobiology.  Lautamo, a video artist, examines the interaction of bacteria, viruses and gene pools.  Their conclusions: We may harbor exalted notions of culture — embodied in art, religion, politics and economics — but ultimately, it's biological forces that control the human enterprise.  That may sound bleak – Darwinian, even — but the visual representations of the phenomena they set forth are compelling, sometimes beautifully so.

Miyagi, who studied marine biology before earning an MA in art from Sac State, builds intricate skeins of copper wire that sprawl, blanket-like across walls.  He also embeds those same swirling forms into wax and tissue, forming gluey, endoplasmic constructions that include calligraphic lines of automatic writing, a synthesis of Japanese and Cyrillic alphabets the artist developed by rote copying.  In their elasticity, Miyagi’s written and sculpted forms mirror biological and cellular activity, suggesting a structural sameness between things we can see, like pelagic plants, and things we can’t, like mitosis and meiosis.  His art argues for the recognition of shared essences, but acknowledges, through a hybrid stab at a universal language, the cultural impediments that stand in the way.
 
Meech Miyagi, detail, "Endosymbiosis", 2013, copper wire, 85 x 82

Lautamo, who also earned an MA in art at Sac State, writes computer programs that generate colorful, gear-shaped images reminiscent of those seen in the works of the Brazilian P&D painter Beatrice Milhazes.  Lautamo’s churn onto the screen slowly and decay.  They break into shards that pile up in the background to form a kind of electronic graveyard.  He calls the piece Agro, the term video gamers use to denote violent, aggressive behavior.  It’s an attempt to depict the birth-to-death cycle of all life forms and the interdependent systems of which they are a part.  In a statement he describes it as “a conflict between individuals, that “meet and interact and war, and make peace and betray and live and die.  They do not decide to be…destructive, but they often are.  Even the benign or the helpful individual is drafted into the service of a violent machine, and though each part in that machine is only seeking its own betterment and well being, each part is blind to the global and emergent effects of their happenstance coalitions.” 

 
That we perceive Lautamo’s and Miyagi’s representations of these systems as things of beauty shows our unique ability to aestheticize the essential brutality of life.  Consciousness, the artists seem to be saying, is a weak tool; it can’t do much to alter behavior or affect destiny.  It’s a discomfiting thought, to be sure, but it’s what makes their cross-disciplinary explorations worth visiting. 
–DAVID M. ROTH
 
Afterhyperpolarization: Meech Miyagi and Mikko Lautano @ Axis through September 29, 2013.
 
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2 Responses to “Meech Miyagi & Mikko Lautamo @ Axis”

  1. cherilyn naughton says:

    Though I agree with the fundamental thesis described by the artist here, I disagree vehemently as to his somewhat archaic and Darwinian interpretation of the viral/cellular events he depicts so beautifully. Nor do I see consciousness as a”weak tool that…can’t do much to alter behavior or affect destiny.” To observe the beauty that Lautamo’s projections present is to truly understand the basic nature of good intent which consciousness ultimately embodies. It is consciousness itself that directs/controls this amazing system, which allows for the gracious, if you will, stepping aside and breaking down of the momentary myriad life forms that exist to make room for the new and as yet unmanifested possibilities of Life.(!) To view this in terms of a struggle, of “war” for god’s sake, is what has led us to so many of the breakdowns in our human culture, and what has served to break down so much of the natural supportive order of our planetary existence. Really, does it seem that a rose is “at war with itself” as it gently decays and retreats into yet another cellular structure that encourages and supports other emerging consciousnesses? I think we – all consciousness, from boulders to humans – are alive in joyful interactions which LOVINGLY interact, and then evolve into yet other amazing formulations. Consciousness is a loving tool that facilitates evolution, and not at all a weak bystander…!

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