Mieko Shiomi: A Bodily Exploration of Selected Objects
Mieko Shiomi’s creative practice extended beyond the conceptual bounds of her training and the geographic limits of her birthplace, reflecting her willingness to think outside the confines of convention. Born in Japan in 1938 and educated in music, she translated her ideas about space and time, which had genesis in her musical training, into artworks that employ the human body. Her first forays beyond music were her action poems, which she created independently around the same time other artists were writing event scores along the same lines. The first visual object she created was her Endless Box (1963-), a set of thirty-four paper boxes nested inside each other, which turns the idea of diminishing sound into diminishing space into a visual of diminishing boxes. Shiomi’s work as an experimental composer and her Endless Box put her in contact with Fluxus, the international artist collective based in New York. Her involvement with Fluxus epitomized Japanese and American cross-cultural exchange during the explosion of performance art in the sixties. During her year in New York and after she returned to Japan, she orchestrated her Spatial Poem (1965-1975), an extraordinary convergence of conceptual and material art. Shiomi’s created her art to be more than observed; she intended it to be enacted or interacted with. Performing or handling her work is an apt way of gaining knowledge about it as its corporeal aspects are central. Bodily knowledge of Shiomi’s artworks significantly expands understanding. This thesis will look at how selected artworks express Shiomi’s ideas, more closely examine them beyond their guise as Fluxus output, and, by performing, remaking and interacting with selected works, will present the greater understanding gained through these physical explorations.