Art and Medicine - Medicine as Metaphor  

ot since Leonardo secretly dissected cadavers in renaissance Italy has art paid as much attention to medicine as, it has in the last few years. Perhaps this is a reflection of the cultural losses dues to AIDS or the unraveling of human genes and the pictorialization of life through computer imaging. Curator Kamikanda Kei at the ICC museum has explored the area and put together a fascinating collection of art that connects with medicine. Eight artists from Japan and around the world are included in the exhibition 'Medicine as metaphor -- Art and Medicine'.

Artist Yama Da Ryu's installation uses the alphabet symbols from the DNA model to represent all of life in just 5 letters; A, T, G, C, and U. These letters -- the building blocks of life -- wizz around his installation on mini red and yellow LED screens. Yama Da arranges the LED's in circles. These flashing and dizzying displays of our genetic modules are mounted on beds of beans. The beans are 'seeds of life' but are also the center of controversial agricultural gene modification.

The visual arts rely on complex connections between eyes and brains. Understanding those mechanisms is the business of Science and medicine. Accordingly it is little wonder that 75% of the works in this exhibition feature these organs. Visual Brains is the title of a the collaborative duo of Sei Kazama and Hatsune Ohtsu. Both also work as television producers. Their 'self portrait ' documentary video piece 'Scale' records the tests and measurements that modern society has reduced childbirth to. Surrounding the video screen are photographs of XY chromosomes from DNA tests.

Australian artist Justine Cooper has used MIR scans to create self-portraits of her. 'Trapp self portrait 1998 uses MIR scans of her head. These are captured on glass plate and arranged in order to create a picture of her head that becomes visible when viewed from an oblique angle. By bobbing about the viewer can reconstruct the head of the artist. Rapt also created using MIR scans to create an animated video which takes the viewer through a roller coaster journey through her anatomy until climactically reaching her brain.

Mihoko Kosugi and Yasuhiko Ando's 1991 installation 'stolen bodies' is given new life in a recreation for this exhibition. The piece, which includes multiple video monitors, examines issues associated with organ transplants. Eyes, pumping hearts and other bit of the bodies appear across the various screens. Ominously the center of the space is filled with a table like lifesized indented outline of the human figure the annonimous donor. Parts of bodies shifting from monitor to monitor cast questions of ownership and identity. It is a mesmerizing and alarming vision; questions of life and death ripple with every movement.

'Doctor's hand' is a series of works begun in 1990 by Lisa Inoue. Her latest in this series is on display in this exhibition. 'Doctor's Hand', literally allows visitors to experience the use of the remote mechanical hands used by doctor's and scientists in surgery and experiement to ensure separationn and safety from patients. Inue is also a medical historian and her research has focussed on the experiments and writings of 19th century medical researcher Sydney Ringer. Another instalation in the exhibiotn by Inue uses artificial lungs and monitoring technology to simulate ideas proposed by Ringer.

Also in the exhibitonn are the body art fashions by works by Eri Matsui and Shingo harada. These cloths use the internal life systems of the body, such as the circulatorary system as the basiss for cloting desing. , the photographs of Makiko Koie Looking like abstract paintings of daubs of color are of the microscopic cells of our bodies. The large pieces are composed of multiple sections of a mass of cells.

The installation 'Kitchen ver. 2.0 Canon', by Kaoru Motomiya, is a light hearted and jolly work. THe bodies dietry system is the focus of this work based in a pink kitchen and which inlcudes a video of an over abundance of olive oil. This is a facinating exhition of art that examines the human body utilizing a range of new medical and research technologies. It is also art that incorporates new multi-media technologies --from electron microscopic imagering to computer generated virtual worlds-- in its display. Contemporary art of interest to all.

NTT InterCommunication Center Tel: 0120-144199 Tokyo Opera City Tower 4F 3-20-2 Nishi-Shinjuku Hatsudai station, Keio New Line 10:00 18:00, closed Mondays Adults Y800 Children Y400