Likening video technology to a “new paintbrush,” Shigeko Kubota was one of the first artists to commit to video in the 1970s. She developed a unique form of video sculpture, extending her otherworldly portraits and landscapes into three-dimensional forms made from plywood and sheet metal, often incorporating mirrors and flowing water. By combining “the energy of electrons” with these raw materials, she proposed a life for video beyond the constraints of the “TV box.” The first solo presentation of the artist’s work at a US museum in 25 years, this exhibition sheds new light on how these sculptures—which draw parallels between nature, technology, and time—continue to resonate in today’s digitally interconnected world.
Kubota observed, “[In] video’s reality, infinite variation becomes possible...freedom to dissolve, reconstruct, mutate all forms, shape, color, location, speed, scale...liquid reality.” This exhibition highlights six works from a critical decade between 1976 and 1985, during which Kubota pivoted from her sculptural homages to artist Marcel Duchamp to embrace nature as a means of examining the medium of video, the world, and her place in it. From Three Mountains (1976-79), which draws on the artist’s time spent in the deserts of the American Southwest, to Berlin Diary: Thanks to My Ancestors (1981), an electronic monument to her family, Kubota examined how technology can offer new ways of understanding our own humanity.
Organized by Erica Papernik-Shimizu, Associate Curator, with the support of Veronika Molnar, Intern, Department of Media and Performance.