Main Page Bruce and Norman Yonemoto
Installations and Objects
memory
matter and
modern
ROMANCE

1999    SILICON VALLEY
MOVIE SCREEN AND TWO-CHANNEL VIDEO PROJECTION
The artists grew up in "The Valley of the Heart's Delight," surrounded by beautiful fruit orchards. In the late 1950s they witnessed the trees being chopped down and burned to make way for what is now Silicon Valley. The atom bomb becomes a symbol of the obliteration of the past by technological progress (embodied in the computer). The infamous "Daisy Girl" commercial used by Johnson against Goldwater in the 1964 Democratic presidential campaign represented a turning point in American political and advertising strategies. The artists use this commercial as a metaphor for a coming destruction and resurrection. This installation was commissioned by the Museum for its Historic Building.

1984-1999    DEFINITION OF A TV LAMP
THIRTY-TWO CERAMIC LAMPS
During the 1950s and 1960s illuminated panthers, ducks, owls, dogs, cats, and other kitsch lighting fixtures-television lamps-sat proudly atop TV sets in many American households. These lamps were prescribed by ophthalmologists to address an emerging health concern associated with America's new pastime, watching television. With our televisions no longer designed as major pieces of furniture, these lamps no longer have a place or purpose in our living rooms. In keeping with an interest in how the media has impacted Americans' lives, Bruce Yonemoto has amassed a collection of more than fifty different television lamps.

1997    LA VIE SECRČTE
ALTERED SCREEN, CLOSED-CIRCUIT CAMERA, AND LED SCREEN
What lies on the other side of the movie screen? Do the projected cinematic images just disappear when the projector is turned off? In La Vie Secrčte, literally translated as "the secret life," the Yonemotos challenge viewers to stick their heads through a hole in the screen and see for themselves what illusions lie ahead. The artists reference both the dreams of the Surrealists and the paintings of the same name by Belgian artist René Magritte (1898-1967).

1995    PARANA
PORCELAIN COFFEE SET AND VIDEO PROJECTION
Bruce Yonemoto acquired this porcelain souvenir coffee set commemorating Brasília while he was an artist-in-residence in Brazil. Images of Brasília's famed modernist buildings designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer decorate the cups and bowls, while archival film footage of Japanese Brazilian sumo matches is projected onto the coffee server. This work is a commentary on the dislocation of culture through time and space and the construction of new identities through the manipulation of history.

1995    A MATTER OF MEMORY
VIDEO PROJECTION, GLASS, WATER, AND ACRYLIC TABLE
Fifties-era television commercials and photographs of Bruce and Norman Yonemoto as children are superimposed on a sugar cube slowly melting in a glass of water. The sugar cube refers to French philosopher Henri Bergson's (1859-1941) metaphor for duration and transformation. For the artists, the sugar cube represents personal memories and identity dissolving in the acidlike solution of the media.

1995    ASEXUAL CLONE MUTATION (FOR OUR FATHER)
CARNATION, GOLD PETAL, GLASS, STEEL, RUBBER, AND WATER
COLLECTION OF BARBARA WISE, NEW YORK
A red carnation with a single gold petal hangs on the wall in memory of the brothers' father. Tak Yonemoto, a plant pathologist and carnation grower was involved with the discovery and cultivation of new carnation varieties. Carnations with desirable genetic mutations are isolated and cloned until a new variety develops. The artists suggest that after careful cloning of a solid-gold mutation, a solid-gold carnation will emerge from that original magical mutation. The golden petal represents a dream akin to finding the goose that lays the golden egg.

1994    EXOTICA: HASHI DE MATO GROSSO
VIDEO PROJECTION AND DISPOSABLE CHOPSTICKS
Early archival footage of a tribal dance being performed by the Mato Grosso, a tribe in the Brazilian rain forest, is projected onto a row of disposable hashi (chopsticks). This installation examines the notion of the "exotic": indigenous people and their customs are frequently considered as objects to be studied, and hashi, ordinary Asian eating utensils, are often thought to be "exotic" tableware by Westerners. The Yonemotos are also satirizing here a circulating rumor that the rain forest is being destroyed by the Japanese need for wood to make chopsticks.

1994    EXOTICA: OUTDOOR-INDOOR
TABLE, FLUORESCENT BULB, AND PLANT
A round table suspended upside down from the ceiling illuminates an exotic potted plant. The table, fashioned from the wood of the now-endangered jacaranda tree, looms menacingly above the potted plant; jacaranda-wood furniture was very popular in the 1950s. This installation looks at the transformation of nature into utilitarian and decorative objects. In addition, it serves as a metaphor for the future of our planet, at risk due to the rapid human destruction of nature.

1994    EXOTICA: LE CABINET CHINOIS
BRAZILIAN ARMOIRE, VIDEO MONITOR, AND FRAMED PHOTOGRAPH
On the shelf of a china cabinet made of hardwood from the rain forest sit a framed photograph of Bruce and Norman Yonemoto as children and a miniature television with an unchanging image of a rain forest. The melodic sounds of unseen birds can be heard in the background. The television image and the photo both become precious objects by their placement in the cabinet, suggesting something memorialized whose images will fade into the past-two boys who are now men, and a disappearing natural environment that perhaps one day will only exist in documentary footage seen on TV.

1993    GOLDEN
GOLD LEAF ON PROJECTION SCREEN
COLLECTION OF EILEEN AND PETER NORTON, SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA
Bruce and Norman Yonemoto covered the entire surface of this projection screen with gold leaf, symbolizing the status and value that our society bestows on Hollywood. Golden serves as a metaphor for the way our most cherished desires and dreams are often projected on the Hollywood screen.

1993    DISINTEGRATION
NITRATE FILM STOCK AND GLASS
A spool of film lies innocently in a glass container. Before 1950 all films were shot on nitrate film stock, a highly flammable, explosive material that becomes more volatile as it degrades: at 110 degrees Fahrenheit the material can burn spontaneously. Media imagery is often seen as harmless, but this piece suggests the opposite. Like nitrate film, Hollywood's media images can be dangerous and should be handled with care.

1993    NAPKIN SERIES
BEADED-GLASS PROJECTION SCREENS ON TV TRAYS
Beaded movie screens folded like restaurant napkins sit elegantly on television trays. These beaded napkins reference the traditional Japanese art of paper-folding called origami as well as the familiar mass-media image of the Asian restaurant worker. With new products like the TV tray and TV dinner emerging in the 1950s, the eating and drinking habits of Americans changed. This piece examines the special relationship between television and the American people.

1993    ACHROME SERIES
ACHROME V, COLLECTION OF MICHAEL CONWAY, BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA
ACHROME III, COLLECTION OF KIMBERLY AND JOHN KNIGHT, LARKSPUR, CALIFORNIA
BEADED-GLASS PROJECTION SCREENS ACHROME I, ALTERED 35MM-SLIDE PROJECTION
These works relate to a series of the same name by Piero Manzoni, an Italian artist of the postwar Arte Povera movement. As a commentary about the centrality of painting as an art form, Manzoni stitched together small pieces of canvas to call attention to the materiality of painting and created, in essence, a "painting" without paint. In their series, the Yonemotos use fragments of beaded home movie screens to call attention to the materiality of film. Extending this concept to the film (celluloid) itself, they cemented together fragments of celluloid to create a mirror image of their sewn Achromes and projected it on the wall.

1993    ENVIRONMENTAL
TWO-CHANNEL VIDEO PROJECTION, FOURTEEN HOME MOVIE SCREENS, AND THREE BLACK-AND-WHITE PHOTOGRAPHS
This installation re-creates the conflicted media environment of the artists' childhood as Japanese Americans in post-World War II. Special-effects footage produced during the 1940s for World War II movies that portrayed the Japanese as heinous killers is projected onto a grouping of home movie screens assembled to create one large screen. On the TV Facing the screens is a compilation of 1950s commercials. Both the movies and the commercials were standard fare for any child watching TV in the 1950s.

1992    LAND OF PROJECTION
VIDEO PROJECTION WITH FIBERGLASS SCULPTURE AND AUDIO
Various television programs (soap operas, commercials, home shopping, sporting events, etc.) are projected onto a life-size replica of a Rapa Nui statue. These giant stone monoliths, known as moai, dot the coastline of Easter Island (located 2,300 miles west of Chile); on average these statues stand thirteen feet high and weigh fourteen tons. Just as the people of Easter Island projected evolving concepts onto the stone statues at the center of their culture, so too does our culture have its own icons onto which we project our evolving dreams and desires. At listening stations, the viewer can hear readings of Western interpretations of Easter Island collected by collaborator Timothy Martin.

1989    FRAMED
VIDEO AND SLIDE PROJECTION, MIRROR, SCRIM, AND BACKDROP
COLLECTION OF THE LONG BEACH MUSEUM OF ART, LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA
A window frames archival film footage shot by the War Relocation Authority (WRA); the WRA, the federal agency that oversaw the forced incarceration of more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II, controlled the photographic documentation of the camps and thus ignored the harsh reality of life there. The artists have reframed the images, which originally tried to put a smiling face on a grim episode in American history. The resulting stills have a poignancy and irony missing from the original film. The idyllic blue sky behind the spectator has appeared in numerous TV commercials and evokes today's controlled media environment while echoing the fabricated reality of the WRA films.


Main || Introduction || Installations and Objects || Video Programs || Public Programs || Biographies || Acknowledgments