Ari Saarto: SILENCE & NOISE
“Silence is a whisper between life and death”
When and how memories vanish? How volatile is a memory? Do we vanish when the very last person who has met and talked to us, dies? Saarto has been inspired by Japanese Jisei (a.k.a. death) poetry and the burnt in shadow of a unidentified person at the stone steps of the Sumitomo Bank, Hiroshima.
Saarto states that one of his subjects of special interest is in combining “low-fi” and “hi-fi” in photography and video, which can provide endless new possibilities. Images of cheap paper negatives, shot with a clumsy wooden camera, are finished with sophisticated digital image processing. Video, shot with a digital camera through a pudding can lid, is finished with a professional editing software.
Ari Saarto’s (b. 1961) series Silence and video work Noise are based on his work period in Tokyo, 2017–2018. Silence was shot during an artist residency at the Youkobo Art Space, in a studio which was designed for a sculptor. The original name of the series, Tokyo Winter Light, comes from the portrait sessions of December and January: the only suitable light came through ceiling windows between 1 and 3 P.M. The portraits were shot with a self made wooden pinhole camera, whose parts were collected from a local hardware store, and the paper negatives developed in closest bathroom. The tapings, dust and scratches are visible in the life-size enlarged images. The ‘lens’ was a roughly cut bottom of a Suntory beer can with a hole of few millimeters, drilled by the artist.
Incidental factors are significant in Silence. Saarto was not totally able to control the exposure – or either see final composition and direct his models during the sessions.
In the Noise, a pinhole video loop of more than three minutes without sound, people look inward, eyes closed, attending into themselves. It seems that they are trying to reach something, which is inside. Something, which is invisible, unformed, unnamed. One doesn't know what it is, one might not even recognize it is there. They are surrounded by noise, which is in the space around us and also in our visual world. This noise is also visible in pixels in this distorted “low-fi” video.
Saarto has graduated from the former University of Art and Design in 1988 (dept. of Art Education) and in 1994 (dept. of Photography). He is represented by Yumiko Chiba Association, Tokyo. His work in Japan has been supported ao. by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Taike, the Scandinavia–Japan Sasakawa Foundation and Agency of Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan. Tokyo Winter Light has been exhibited in 2019 at the CAVE, a project space for contemporary art, Ayumi Gallery, Tokyo.