What is “masayume”? A Giant “Face” Will Float Over Tokyo in Summer 2020
Special Interview: Contemporary art team [mé]
from left, Kenji Minamigawa (director), Haruka Kojin (artist), Hirofumi Masui (art installer)
Interview: Moyo Urashima, Photos: Tatsuro Kakishima (Pointer), Hair & Make: Miho Matsuda (allure)
Cooperation: Taito Film Commission
Contemporary art team [mé] has garnered attention both in Japan and abroad for work brimming with originality that transforms spaces and brings a feeling of wonder to the viewer. [mé]’s art project “masayume” is one of the 13 projects that make up the core of the “Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL”, chosen from among thousands of entries. What is the story behind this project, which will choose a living person’s face from among entrants from around the world to appear in the skies over Tokyo in summer 2020?
The core members of contemporary art team [mé] are artist Haruka Kojin, director Kenji Minamigawa and art installer Hirofumi Masui. Why did they apply for this program?
Kojin: The “masayume” project is based on a dream I had when I was in junior high. I was making my way home from cram school on the train. Out of the window I could see a forest, but at one point a gap opened up and I saw a city beyond, while a giant face floated in the sky above. The dream seemed important to me and I talked about it with a lot of people.
Minamigawa: That memory stayed with Kojin, and in 2014, we used her dream as the basis of a project called “The Day with a Man’s Face Floating in the Sky” in Utsunomiya. When we were thinking of doing it on a larger scale, I was surprised to see the flyer calling for applications! It seemed to be just right for “masayume”. The call for applications asked, “Can the project be expanded by applying?” and “Can anyone participate in the project?” I immediately knew we had to apply (laughs). In 2020, we will float a face as tall as a six- or seven-story building over Tokyo!
Kojin: I think it’s hard to feel a personal connection to the Olympics. By not using a famous face, but a face that makes you think, “Who’s that?”, viewers can feel like it could have been their own face in the sky. I want to make this into the kind of large-scale project where afterwards, when people ask me who the viewers were, I can say, “humankind”.
Why do you work under the name “[mé]”?
Minamigawa: Kojin wanted the name to be something precious, something taken for granted, that goes unnoticed. What intuitively came to mind for me was “eyes” (“me” (目) in Japanese).
Kojin: Our own eyes are something we can never see, right? We take our vision for granted, but we can only see because we have eyes. With very little information, we humans live believing we understand it all, but the truth is that our ignorance far outweighs our understanding. That’s the basis for the work that we do as [mé].
Minamigawa: When Kojin here has an abstract idea, I probe into what it’s all about, and when we reach a point where we think, “We can make this into an artwork!”, we make a presentation to Masui. That’s our style.
Masui: It’s my job to make those interesting ideas into a reality. What they come up with tends to be the kind of thing I’ve never heard of before, so the first step is finding people we can consult about how to make them (laughs).
Minamigawa: Originally Masui and I worked on art projects together, but we met Kojin and her way of thinking had a major impact on us. We decided that rather than artists, we were better suited to direction and production, and with that settled, we invited Kojin to join us. By sharing our own unique strengths, it’s like having six arms attached to one body, with us all working together.
Minamigawa: We gathered around 1,400 faces in total. After that, we had a “face meeting” to discuss how the face should be chosen. We heard suggestions such as “It should be too lifelike to look at directly.” Kojin is choosing based on those ideas.
Kojin: We want to achieve a sort of instinctive reaction when people are confronted with the face. There are all sorts of faces. It’s a struggle, but I think the answer will gradually come to me in time.
Minamigawa: Like with a Zen dialogue, it doesn’t feel like choosing, but rather that the answer is already decided.
Masui: For me, the most important thing is making sure what everyone sees is of the highest quality. Honestly, it’s very difficult (laughs). In Utsunomiya, we floated the face high enough to be visible from various places around town, and in Tokyo, I want to try go even higher.
Kojin: I think it will be really interesting when it floats up and makes people scratch their heads as they see it, so I kind of wish everyone could forget we’re planning to float this face over Tokyo (laughs). I think this will be an experience that will linger in the memories of a lot of people.
Minamigawa: I’m sure some people will see it by chance from inside buildings, and perhaps their eyes will meet. Only one person’s face will be chosen. I hope the entrants will wait with anticipation, wondering if their face was picked, until the big day.
[mé] is a contemporary art team consisted of artist Haruka Kojin, director Kenji Minamigawa, and art installer Hirofumi Masui. Maximizing potentials of each members as a creative team, their works are unlimited to any specific media or genre. With a special emphasis on given situations including spatial experiences and traffic-lines of the audience, their works allow us to reconfirm the actual world of limitless uncertainty. From November 2-December 28, 2019, [mé] is hosting their first large solo exhibition at the Chiba City Museum of Art, entitled “Obviously, no one can make heads nor tails.” In addition, their project “masayume” was selected in a public contest by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Arts Council Tokyo as one of “Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13”, and will be unveiled in the summer of 2020.