The Kaleidoscopic Eye
April 4–July 5, 2009 | Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

Cerith Wyn Evans – Untitled, 2008
Installation view: The Kaleidoscopic Eye, Mori Art Museum, Japan 2009
Photo: Watanabe Osamu | Mori Art Museum

The Kaleidoscopic Eye: Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection , a collaboration between Mori Art Museum and TBA21, investigates the question of how to define “what’s real”, which has preoccupied philosophy, science, religion and the arts for the longest time. Reality, in everyday usage, means "the state of things as they actually exist”, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. On a more subjective level, investigations into reality activate private experiences, curiosity, inquiry and interpretation, but also reflections on void, nothingness and emptiness on the part of the inquiring subject.

The Kaleidoscopic Eye includes a selection of works by leading contemporary artists from the collection of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary that explore the disruption of our perceptual habits and challenges and displaces the ways we experience visual representation and sensations through art. Using the metaphor of the kaleidoscope, the exhibition interrogates the limits of visibility through artworks that fully engage perception, never allowing the senses to rest. Rather than sharpening vision, the kaleidoscope tends to disorganize and diffuse it, recomposing the perceived images of our surroundings by reflecting arbitrary patterns and rotational symmetries. This playful viewing device references the ways in which the eyes and the brain function as elements of a fine-tuned and complex system of perception.

Beyond the perceptional temporalities produced by optically engaging installations, the many large-scale works in the exhibition multiply and interweave in amazingly evocative ways the registers in which imagination, memory, light, reflection, and sound are experienced. Equally, the paradoxes and resistances of language, the ambiguous mechanisms of our senses, and the question of identity play essential roles in the negotiation of the physical and temporal spaces that constitute our sense of reality. In some instances, artists fundamentally question the possibility of producing meaning or even value through the visible. Acutely conscious of the act of perception itself, they create superimpositions of multiple, collaged meanings, a sense of disorientation that insinuates doubt, elasticity, and displacement. Thus the imaginary, hallucinogenic visions on the far side of the horizon become an intrinsic part of the perceivable, and the visible itself becomes in part the authority of the imaginary.

The transdisciplinary selection of works—including video, sculpture, film, installation, and site-specific interventions—produces a transformation of the institutional space, its shift and activation as a place for art in which the visitor’s engagement, participation, and imagination generate a break with the conventions of order and stability associated with the exhibition space.
April 4–July 5, 2009
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
John M Armleder, Janet Cardiff, Olafur Eliasson, Tracey Emin, Haris Epaminonda, Cerith Wyn Evans, Fengyi Guo, Florian Hecker, Jeppe Hein, Carsten Höller, Jim Lambie, Los Carpinteros, Sarah Lucas, Sarah Morris, Carsten Nicolai, Paul Pfeiffer, Matthew Ritchie, Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam, Hans Schabus, Do Ho Suh, Klaus Weber, Peter Tscherkassky, Heimo Zobernig