2023 Video installation, screen made of approximately 2,000 gauze facial masks (400×585㎝), 4K video(12 hr. 48 min.)

The video documents an approximately 13-hour performance in which Kobayashi is seen writing down row after row of alphabetical letters read out by Yamashita. The character string that continues to fill the screen as a result of their collaborative effort, represents the full genome sequence of the first isolated strain of the COVID-19 virus (NC_045512※) said to have been identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Surprisingly, the coronavirus, which over the past several years has brought fear to our lives and has managed to overturn conventional social systems, is in fact represented by a string of 29,903 characters, a mere 29.9 kilobytes in data.
Superimposed beneath the performance footage in which the artists endeavor to visualize the invisible virus through using their own bodies as a medium, is an animated virtual background commonly used in online video conference platforms that have rapidly become customary amid the pandemic. The video is projected onto a screen that the artists produced themselves by sewing together approximately 2,000 “gauze facial masks” with a sewing machine.
This work, which attempts to incorporate the multi-layered structure of contemporary society that have become apparent through the phenomenon of COVID-19, demonstrates Yamashita + Kobayashi’s perspective on the bewilderment and fear of the “unknown” that we have all likely felt over the past several years, and or the nature of “human beings” that can be observed from it.

※Accession number on GenBank, the nucleotide sequence database, maintained by NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information).

–Arisa Jinno (Curator of Chiba Prefectural Museum of Art)


2023 Chiba Prefectural Museum of Art, Chiba、Japan