NAOTAKA HIRO: My body, the unknown me

About Untitled (Mocap), 2015

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled (Mocap), 2015  Bronze, rope, steel   Dimensions variable Courtesy of Brennan & Griffin, New York

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled (Mocap), 2015 Bronze, rope, steel   Dimensions variable
Courtesy of Brennan & Griffin, New York

Untitled (Mocap) is a continuation of my previous sculptural works.  Using the same method of self-casting, I had pieces of palm-size, heated wax on my hand, that I pushed steadily against different places of the frontal part of my body —one by one, from head to toe, 58 times. 

Each cast bronze object, 58 pieces in total, has parts of my body surface imprinted on one side while traces of my fingers/palm cover the other side. 

All the parts are threaded by a single rope, thus the work has fixed and unfixed parts hung on the wall in the installation. The original body placements, as seen in the diagram-drawings, is being bundled up, displaced and re-arranged.  The work will be rearranged by the artist every time it is shown. (Naotaka Hiro)

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled (Mocap Drawing)  2015, Ink and pencil on paper, 72" x 48" Courtesy of Brenna & Griffin, New York

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled (Mocap Drawing) 2015, Ink and pencil on paper, 72″ x 48″
Courtesy of Brenna & Griffin, New York

The person has a mold. But not

its animal. The angelic ones

Speak of the soul, the mind. It is

An animal. … (Wallace Stevens)

Angels? Animals? A unique orchestra of organs for each person on earth? Plus the hardware, to support the subjectivity. Body surface: evidence that we belong to the material world. And everyone is unique, not so much for the chromosomes, but for life itself: if I was born in the countryside the city hurts me with noise, strange eyes of the car lights and unrequested offers to look and read and buy and pay. I can be killed if I don’t pay attention.

Naotaka Hiro isolates himself in his studio at the end of the day. Restless, he tries to imagine how to capture and render in an art piece his body’s hidden operations, the chemical dynamics that we call life. Aware of the senses yes, but for him more must be possible. “Motion capture” — “Mocap.”


Who’s driving the game? His mind or the body? The myth of Pygmalion, Rodin’s statues charged with human vibrations are things of the past. A stone is a stone and bronze is bronze is bronze. Still, other things must be possible — I’m imagining the artist’s puzzle — things that the eyes will discover when they appear. Not body parts, just forms of an imaginary dialogue between hand and body of the same person.

For the time being a piece of warm wax between the palm of his hand and different parts of his frontal body give him the answer, the one working for this piece: each pressure produces a local reaction. With no verbal ambiguity, the two parts are separate and one: the wax registers both: the result is a two-side booklet of physical language cast in bronze, a malleable space in between. Numbered, and cast in bronze, each entity refers to the body without being a body part. All together, connected by one rope, they might dream of the human body as we dream of prehistoric sites.

We only see, in Naotaka Hiro’s art piece, fragments of time, captured physicality. Maybe be there is a lion, or a tiger, in the final configuration. But, next time, positions will be changed. Who knows? Replaced by a Phoenix who simply decomposes before she was reborn? The artist, for sure, will play his art in front of the ‘animal spirits’ locked in the bronze.

Please read this stanza by Wallace Stevens. It’s the best portrait of Nao’s active work I found so far. Maybe not sculpture, maybe not true anymore that “Where word breaks off no thing may be.” (Friedrich Hölderlin) Yet, MOCAP gives the idea, if not the object.


That I may reduce the monster to

Myself, and then may be myself

In face of the monster, be more than part

Of it, more than the monstrous player of

One of its monstrous lutes, not be

Alone, but reduce the monster and be,

Two things, the two together as one,

And play of the monster and of myself,

Or better not of myself at all,

But of that as its intelligence,

Being the lion in the lute

Before the lion locked in stone.

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, Mocap Map) 2015 detail

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled,(Mocap Map) 2015 detail.