Ujino Munetetru is a bricoleur (a person who engages in bricolage) who likes to create and fix something; or may be even a tool-mania who must turn, fix, and draw out something as soon as he holds a tool like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times. However, what distinguishes Ujino Munetetru from other bricoleurs is that he is a dreamer who always makes the philosophical consideration of how to breathe new spirit into things without life.
Ujino Muneteru makes his own musical instruments by combining things he found around him (hair dryers, electronic drills, blenders, cookers) with secondhand musical instruments and installs them in galleries. Astrok, his new work created in 2008, made with scrapped cars and used products collected in Seoul, goes full into the qualities of cars, the medium of modern society, as well as initiates a recycling movement which connects past, present, and future. The car project was executed in Berlin in last September by using huge trucks, and another one will be presented in London in February of the next year by using taxis. For the artist, cars are at once the common transportation system, representative of modern big cities all over the world and the industrial image to homogenize them. Cars were once in the limelight as the hope of future industry and recently, become increasingly high-end products as the catalyst to promote consumer culture. With commercial bits and pieces, Ujino Muneteru parodies, fragments, and bricolages not only the outward aspects of the car industry, but also the uniform system of big cities which are homogenized overwhelmingly by the globalization of capital, transforming both to the unidentifiable, hybrid aura of unknown time.
It is not important to define theoretically whether Ujino Muneteru’s works are sculptures or musical instruments. In 1970s, hippiedom which challenged traditional orders and ideologies and pursued freedom and peace fascinated Japanese youth, and the Western Pop music and Rock & Roll led the artist to raise fundamental questions to art. The artist’s works are, on the one hand, the yearning for Rock music of a Japanese young artist and the Nietzschean(skeptical) fantasy dreamed by the stiflingly uniform Japanese society, and on the other, actually existing things created by a prominent craft artist. The complex noise made by the meaningless arrays of juice blenders, hair dryers, spoons, electronic lights, ladders, desks, chairs, cars and so on, reveals an aspect of a country called Japan and thereby, successfully reaches the very depth the modern society. How many countries on this earth have anesthetically accepted the modernism and the surface form cast by the monolithic system of the Western society?
These bits and pieces of Ujino Muneteru are found at every turn of our society and familiar to everyone. They circulate over and over again, gushing out superficial meanings. Like Plastic Ikebana & Electric Bento, they revolve more beautifully, more immensely, and more noisily.
Text excerpted from essay by Bae Eunah, Assistant Curator