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Takagi Masakatsu - world is so beautiful

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Artist: Takagi Masakatsu

Album: world is so beautiful

Label: Carpark

Review date: Oct. 26, 2006

Takagi Masakatsu’s video camera lures children like the Pied Piper’s flute. Captured, their images accompany him home, where he pours them through software filters and sets thepixilated , rainbow-colored world to his own compositions. The 10 short videos on world is so beautiful recapitulate the allure of “childish” music in visuals, clarifying the derivation of that genre’s joy.

Takagi already knew the world is really, really beautiful; 2001’s Pia, also a video release on Carpark, thanked “the beauty all over the world” and similarly mined global childhood. Children are both subject and inspiration here, most obviously on “sorina street,” where Takagi uses a black-and-white video of a 9-year-old waif busking with her accordion in Istanbul as a canvas for animations of happy, brightly-colored beasts and blooming flowers. He uses his own music rather than the sound of the recording and the result is sad but hopeful, something like the ads on TV that request sponsors for starving children.

“south beach,” another highlight, takes footage of boys swimming in Havana, pixilates and flattens it, drawing the waves out into molten blue globules, edged in fire. “run on the planet” layers what can best be described as flying crystals of salt over imps running through a field until the figures melt into watercolor flatness, turning to pillars like Lot’s wife. The music and images don’t match rhythmically, but do heighten and inflect one another.

Takagi creates a 21st century innocence by pairing globalism — for this release alone, he films in Cuba, Guatemala, Indonesia, France, Germany, Turkey, Nepal and Japan — with childhood. In connecting the two visually, he explicates the way in which global commerce and communication have made the world new again, imbuing us with hope for transcending the tired problems of the stodgy past. Perhaps every moment of history feels pregnant with possibility, but Takagi simplifies and amplifies what people grasp onto for hope in this particular era. Because his focus is the future, the perspective is wide-eyed, free of ironic and jaded dissection of the past, and thus necessarily child-like.

In a way, this embrace of globalization helps to normalize the fact that Takagi made these videos to be played in an international chain of clothing stores. Such mingling of art and retail seems to be more accepted in Japan than anywhere else, though the 2002 debut of these pieces predates even Takashi Murakami’s famed Louis Vuitton handbag. But if such “collaborations” still turn our stomachs, perhaps retailers sponsoring art projects is less noisome than plutocrats funding the endeavor with exorbitant bids at auction. Thus Takagi Masakatsu revels in the joys of global communication, travel and art while strengthening the commercial ties that make it all possible.

By Josie Clowney

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