Artist Spotlight: Finding a Universal Sense with Shohei Fujimoto

Japanese new media artist Shohei Fujimoto continues his evolution of ‘Intangible Forms’, an otherworldly display of light, sound and experience that meditates on our innermost thoughts and how we connect with the world. 

There has never been a time more saturated with information than in the present day. Images, news reels and articles race across the light of our eyes at blinding pace, where our attention spans have shortened and the question of truth has become a hotly debated conversation — what is real and what is fake? 

One of the roles of art has always been to elucidate certain overlooked truths of the outside world and those from within. While many artists use a pencil or paintbrush to bring their creations to life, Shohei Fujimoto uses that which is largely immaterial to reveal the threshold between the physical world and the metaphysical realms of our mind. 

intangible #form in Intangible Forms at ARTECHOUSE DC

Born and raised in Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture, located on the island of Kyushu, the Tokyo-based artist grew up surrounded by nature and recalls the landscape leaving a deep imprint on his memories. Hidden subtly within the shrubs, the changing degrees of light became the medium in which the artist sought to understand the world. This fascination began to deepen in 2013, as the artist noticed a wall reflecting a laser beam and feeling something physical. “It was like the laser was an object existing right between the wall and myself. That was interesting and I thought maybe I could use it as a piece of data inside a living space,” Fujimoto told ARTECHOUSE.

“You will be able to imagine the world as others see it.”

Since then, the Japanese artist has utilized mathematical code to create otherworldly light installations that probe into the boundaries of human perception. Naturally, music has become a complementary field to his work, which has featured alongside hypnotizing sets and solo exhibitions across the world. When asked about the motives behind his art, Fujimoto asserts that he looks to reawaken his audience to their mind’s eye — that is, our universal ability to imagine disparate images from the same source of information. An effort he hopes will encourage people to observe the world with empathy, mindful of our unique perspectives and how consciousness itself is nothing more than an ever-changing mix of memories, aspirations and worldviews. 

intangible #form in Intangible Forms at ARTECHOUSE DC

“The ability to share images with others is a unique characteristic of human beings, and if you see or experience art that reminds yourself of that ability, you will be able to imagine the world as others see it. This will allow you to look inward, observe yourself and connect with the world you see yourself,” he muses.

Fujimoto’s latest exhibition, Intangible Forms, falls succinctly in line with this lifelong exploration. The work on view was produced in collaboration with Kyoka Sound, ARTECHOUSE Studio and is currently on view in Washington D.C. While some installations immerse audiences in a sea of red beams, others theoretically explore the geometry of nature and the synapses in our brains, such as the ability to “make visible the experiences of living things, lifeless things and all the invisible things in between,” noted the artist. 

“I would like to invite my audience to experience what is in front of you.”

Revisiting the role of art: ownership and by extension vanity, has been a double-edged sword throughout the course of history. For Fujimoto, however, the autonomous nature of his works allow him to bring a universality to each installation. By removing the artist’s hand and cultural background, per say, Fujimoto programs the clues to which anyone can piece together a story within their own minds. “I would like to invite my audience to experience what is in front of you, to feel how you are experiencing it, and to think about how you are reacting to it,” he added.

power of one #density in Intangible Forms at ARTECHOUSE DC

Though programmed by the artist, each laser metaphorically takes on its own nature. “We can think about it as a body that moves at a speed we cannot catch or grasp. It’s similar to the behavior of an insect or animal.”

Intangible Forms includes installations dating back as early as 2009, but Fujimoto first brought them together as a fully realized exhibition in collaboration with ARTECHOUSE Studio at ARTECHOUSE’s New York City location in 2020. The exhibition then traveled to Montreal last year. Fujimoto has continually evolved his focus and practice to zero-in on our “universal sense” that is elicited through each autonomous element programmed. “By creating devices and aggregates that imitate natural phenomena, I think that the technology contained in the device can highlight the existence between living things and inanimate objects,” said Fujimoto, adding that this connection will spark a symbiotic relationship where the viewer will subsequently “recognize the consciousness of the thing in focus and the thing will welcome the viewer as an observer of consciousness.”

Intangible Forms at ARTECHOUSE NYC in 2020 (L) and at New Gas City in Montréal in 2022 (R)

Fujimoto’s work transcends that of just visceral light and abstract soundscape. The Japanese artist is helping to define the trajectory that art and science will continue to  play in the 21st Century — where our digital lives and physical experiences will continue to blur, producing previously unseen visions of consciousness and a deeper need for connection. 

Learn more about Fujimoto on his website or in our Artist Spotlight video companion: