"Watching #candle" Limestone, 7 x 13.3 x 0.9 cm, 2019, Adoka Niitsu
The artwork Watching #candle is a smartphone-shaped limestone sculpture with a photograph of a candle flame.
Candles not only bring light to darkness, but can also be used for birthday celebrations, for meditation and for prayer. Variations and flickers of brightness of the flame may show us a symbol of life and a hope for eternity. A melting candle sometimes looks like tears falling.
Watching the flame of the candle invites us to a time for inner healing.
This work also suggests connection to the history of mass media.
"A single lit candle stands inside the shell of a vintage TV. Light represents the beginning of human civilization. Paik once said that a light source is like a piece of information. In this work, he considered television the beginning of a new type of civilization." *1(text about Candle TV by Nam June Paik)
Nam June Paik made series of artworks from the 1960s to the 2000s. He organized the first international satellite art event, Good Morning, Mr. Orwell, in Paris and New York on New Year’s Day 1984. The title of the event was in reference to the English novelist George Orwell's dystopian science fiction novel 1984 and made predictions about the future influence of media.
Orwell's 1984 was published in 1949, just four years after of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the novel, “telescreens” are devices like televisions, with cameras and microphones, capturing and sharing countless images, just as today's smartphones do.
"Nam June Paik refuted Orwell's prediction, claiming 'You were only half-right,' and planned the satellite television show, Good Morning Mr. Orwell, in order to present a positive aspect of the mass media." *2
With this work Niitsu pays tribute to Paik's proactive point of view and positive message about the future, and also by using the image of candlelight, like was used in Paik’s work Candle TV, as if the sculpture were a live streaming smartphone screen.
Today, we use smartphones to take pictures and share them instantly. Technology is changing at ever-accelerating speeds. But if we gaze deeply into the details of this limestone smartphone, we can have a view of birth and death on earth on a very long-term scale.
From 145 million years ago until today, this sculpted smartphone represents the history of image reproduction and visual communication, as well as enquiry into our conception of time and the relationship between nature and humans.
This artwork invites the viewer to contemplate the history of media and technology, and our vision of the future, though natural materials.
*1 : Nam June Paik Art Center website
Photo of work in progress, 2019
In 1796 when German playwright and actor Alois Senefelder (1771-1834) was seeking an inexpensive printing method, he accidentally noticed how oil on the stone repelled water, and he thus invented planographic (flat) printing. “Lithos” means 'stone' in ancient Greek.
Later, it became possible to print a large number of multicolor prints. This fascinated artists like Toulouse-Lautrec in Paris, and opened up then-new artistic fields of applied art, multiples art, advertising, and political art prints. Posters in public spaces in cities stimulated people's lifestyles and pushed towards modernization through the power of the image.
Lithography is also a technology that led to today’s offset printing and is likewise applied to the printing technology of the semiconductor microchips of computers and smartphones, called "photolithography, as it combines methods of lithography and photography.
Limestone is formed mainly from the calcareous shell and skeletal remains of microscopic marine organisms, such as coral, foraminifera, and molluscs. The stones were hand-collected by the artist Adoka Niitsu while she was in the Solnhofen region of Germany, known for its quarries of a particular limestone used for lithographic printing. Each part of the stone contains many different fossils, each telling their story of the earth before the arrival of humans. Limestone can be considered as an origin of mass media.
June Allen (English text check)
Noriko Mitsuhashi (Reseach trip for limestone)
Installation view at Galleria Daniele Agostini, Lugano
*This art work was exhibited at group show in Lugano.
Tonatiuh Ambrosetti, Davide Cantoni, Giovanni Chiamenti, Andrea Gabutti, Gao Li, Adoka Niitsu, Nastasia Meyrat, Stefan Milosavljevic, Marta Pierobon, Laura Santamaria, Marco Scorti, Vera Trachsel, Abdelaziz Zerrou
Opening : Thursday 9 MAY 2019, 18:00 - 20:00
Exhibition : 10 MAY - 6 JULY 2019
Galleria Daniele Agostini
Via Cattedrale 11,
6900 Lugano, Switzerland
Opening hours :
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday : 13:00 - 18:00
Thursday: 13:00 - 19:00
or by appointment