Arthur Huang took time to answer some questions as part of my interview series to wrap up Art Byte Critique group’s participation in the Tokyo Art Book Fair 2016.
Arthur is the founder of ABC. Arthur is a neuroscientist and his artistic practices reflect data collection and the structure of memories and the brain. He describes his work best:
“I live and work in Tokyo, Japan as an artist and researcher. I am interested in everyday memories which I have been exploring in my studio practice since 2001. I moved to Tokyo in 2009 to work as a molecular biologist and neuroscientist at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute studying memory and learning in mice. I am the director of the Tokyo-based artist collective Art Byte Critique. I have exhibited work in the United States, Europe, and Japan including HAGISO, Southern Exposure, Printed Matter, neurotitan, the Austin Museum of Art, Tokyo Art Book Fair, Spiral Independent Creator’s Festival, and the Setouchi Triennale 2013.”
Why did you want to participate in TABF?
Books and printed matter are so fascinating to me. Along with the ideas presented in printed matter, the way they are printed and how they feel in my hand are equally important. I love going to a bookstore and choosing a book just based on how it looks and how it feels in my hand. Artist’s books are an further extension of that idea of object and it offers another way to present ideas that is not solely restricted to reading from front to back.
Back in 2013, I came to the TABF for the first time and I was amazed at the range of books, zines, and other printed matter that was being made in Japan and around the world. I made a simple artist book using screen printing in graduate school and I found the process of making it and the end result quite enjoyable. But between the end of graduate school and my first visit to TABF, I never found the proper motivation or inspiration to return to the process. Seeing what was possible with artist’s books and looking for a way to bring together different artists associated with Art Byte Critique, I decided to organise artists to learn how to make artist’s books and participate in the TABF. This was our third year of participating at the TABF and it continues to be inspirational interms of seeing what other artists are making as well as a way to seek out other like-minded artists to participate in Art Byte Critique’s activities.
What kind of books did you produce?
For the TABF 2016, I decided to simplify my process due to a number of concurrent exhibitions. I also wanted to move away from the overly labor intensive production process that I found myself involved in for the last two TABF. I decided to focus on my
everyday drawings and make a zine that speaks to my process of making these drawings. The result of these efforts was an A5 size, 16-page zine called “Dialogue #1” where I start two drawings with two different motifs and let the two motifs bleed onto the other drawing over the course of making the final drawings.
How did working with Art Byte Critique help you prepare your work?
Having regular meetings about organising the booth as well as seeing work in progress was very motivating. It was fantastic to see the continued enthusiasm of artists who have been making books for the TABF since 2014. It was also great to see artists become enamoured with the making of artist’s books for the first time. The energy was contagious for everyone I think.
What do you take away from this experience?/What did you learn from the process of preparing for the show?
It continues to be a great experience and I look forward to ABC’s continued participation in the TABF. What I have come to realise is that while the process of making the artist’s books is the main focus, we also need to think more about the presentation component of our work within the context of the booth. Walking around the TABF and looking at other artists and what they came up with for the presentation was inspiring and daunting. We learned a great deal about the potential for creating a presentation that catches the eye among the hundreds of booths at TABF.
Over the course of the last several years, I have come to realise that my artist’s books are not a standalone work. They often work in relationship to or supplement larger works and ideas that I am interested in. I think that this is not necessarily a bad thing. However, I want to work more on making artist’s books that can be presented on their own without the need for any additional context.
What was your biggest challenge?
I am used to working on labor intensive projects so simplifying the studio process for this “Dialogue #1” zine was my biggest challenge. Even seeing the finished project and being satisfied with how well it correlated to the idea in my head, I still continue to spin ideas about how to make it more. I need to try and remember that sometimes, “more” is not necessary.
You can find out more about Arthur Huang and his work at: http://www.arthurjhuang.com/