CDs stands out for being a very personal expression of nostalgia, both for the artist's favorite albums from the 1960s to the 1990s, and for an era that is passing. As the distribution and consumption of music shifts to the web, record stores are closing down. The listening-station set-up that Aikawa emulates in this installation pays homage to an increasingly antiquated mode of distribution. Put on the headphones and you'll hear the artist's own, out-of-tune, a capella attempts to sing the songs from memory.
This additional, performative act of imitation recalls not only the hit-and-miss merriment of karaoke nights but, curiously, the very phenomenon that is now rendering CDs obsolete: the infinite replication and reworking of music tracks on the web, predominantly on YouTube. This seemingly limitless site is home not only to official band pages with original tracks, but countless fan-made mashups, music videos, and cover versions. Aikawa's warbles remind us of what we all used to do, singing along to our favorite songs alone in our bedrooms, in the time before people could turn on the webcam and broadcast to the world. And yet, they exude the obsessiveness of only the most extreme fandom. Aikawa's creation of the CDs installation, both as an elaborate work of painting, and as a dogged act of performance, is imbued with a physicality that is perhaps the very antithesis of the more throwaway gestures that form the majority of online tributes.
Though the precision of Aikawa's brushwork raises questions about what it means to transform a mass-produced product into a finely crafted art object, there is nothing overly precious about his work. Crucially, the artist doesn't take himself too seriously. On his website, he has a list of tongue-in-cheek "tips" related to the CDs installation, among them: "There are a lot of cover bands out there, but my covers are the best," and "Japanese people are good at imitating things." In the midst of a cacophony of countless artists and musicians trying to make themselves heard, with CDs, Aikawa has carved out a tranquil spot where you can put on his headphones and listen to something truly unusual.
- Ashley Rawlings
YearF2007`@TechniqueFAcrylic on canvas, @The Kent board, CD-ROM, CD Audition Device (NAKAMICHI MB-K300s)@SizeF5.5 ~5.5 inch; 14~ 14 cm each