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Pixelated Mosaics

Jordan Shearer | Staff Writer | 1-27-2012

The Talley Gallery is featuring a number of works by Japanese artist Megumi Naitoh.  The works consist of a number of ceramic mosaics that are compilations of numerous small, square tiles, or pixels.  The tiles are slanted in such a way that the viewer experiences one image from one angle and another image from another angle.
The works are fascinating for the fact that they are the product of two very different interests of Naitoh.  She drew the idea for them from the Roman mosaics, but she created them in such a way that they speak of modern day life.  As mentioned in the artist’s statement that is displayed along with the artwork, Naitoh is interested in the relationship between people and technology and how people have come to weave back and forth between reality and virtual life.

The idea for this certain kind of work came in the early 2000s when she went to an art museum and saw a mosaic next to a piece by Chuck Close and became inspired to make pixelated mosaics.  “It’s like updating what traditional mosaics can be,” Naitoh said.
Whether or not the viewer finds the work aesthetically pleasing is irrelevant.  This is a point where Naitoh’s contemporary version differs quite extensively from the traditional Roman mosaics, which were intended to be decorative and were even incorporated into architecture.  Instead, she described her own creations as having a “certain message.” She said that “I don’t really mean to make something pretty. The content of my work is more exciting to me.”
The works represent an entire decade of Naitoh’s career, and although the project has changed form a lot from when it was first initiated, it is getting close to coming to an end. “I’m going through a transitional time,” she said.
Nonetheless, even though the artwork itself is changing from one form to another, the message that is buried within the artwork looks as if it will remain constant.  As mentioned above, Naitoh is intrigued with how we have come to interact with technology and how we live in both an electronic, virtual world as well as in a tangible, physical world.  This is something that Naitoh will continue to explore, whether it’s manifested through pixelated mosaics or some other form.
When asked what art project she will undertake next, Naitoh explained how she is already involved in a new idea involving the concept of origami. This includes taking origami patterns, making them into plaster molds, and then, ultimately, transforming them into porcelain objects.  Her interest in this project is partly due to the fact that origami is an art form that is ingrained in her native Japanese culture.
Naitoh’s work represents a very unique artistry.  Having said that, it invokes curiosity as to the source of her inspiration.  In response to that question, she stated that it often times just comes to her.  “I just kind of pay attention to what’s happening around me, and the inspiration comes from that.”