CASE TOKYO is delighted to announce the exhibition Recover by Japanese artist Daijiro Ohara (July 11 – August 31, 2019). The exhibition features a variety of new drawings based on Ohara’s interpretations of several publications by Japan-based publisher Case Publishing and its guiding principle of “the book as a form of expression.” We invite you to experience Ohara’s stimulating, quasi-collective new artworks at CASE TOKYO together with the books that inspired.

“There are about ten books here. Each of them has been published by the same company. I take a book into my hands. It has been created with care and finesse. I quickly leaf through its pages to see what kind of book I am looking at (before we begin to read books, first we look at them in their entirety to get a good impression). As I leaf through the book, a page catches my interest. I try to leaf back to find the page again – why is it so difficult to find the exact page again? Why is it difficult to estimate where the page was? I wonder at which speed others leaf through the pages of a book.

According to certain studies of human perception, it takes seven seconds on average for our visual senses to trace contours and correlate positions of new stimuli. Perhaps ten seconds. As a test, I try to leaf through the book spending ten seconds on each page. Rather than looking or seeing, it feels as if I have started to read the book. I change my approach again. This time, I decide to draw the pages. Instead of exact copies, I aim for the area just between “seeing” and “reading” and spend about ten seconds drawing each page. The lines I draw try to catch up with my impressions; they do not form coherent images. But I press on and finish the entire book in this manner. Once I am done, I have a stack of paper next to me that is entirely different to the book I browsed. Something imperfect and flawed. What exactly have I made? A while later, I bundle the loose sheets of paper and leaf through them. The experience is insufficient. And yet, for some reason the drawings bring back a lot of my impressions. I decide to record these memories and feelings. Rather than neat drawings on clean paper, I deem a blackboard the ideal choice of medium – draw, erase, repeat.

The meaning of the word “recover” is to restore or return something to its original state. In the case of this project, I want it to include the “cover” of a book as well as a “cover” in the musical sense (where a third party interprets, sometimes in their own style, an original song).

There are different methods to interpret an original song in music: copy, cover, and remix. The methods and the reproductions they produce each differ in spiritual nature and distance to the original song and artist.

Copying means performing or singing the original song without any changes, i.e. to its arrangement or rhythmic structure. Such faithful by-ear reproductions of songs, which may go so far as to mimic gestures and clothes of the original performer, have similarities with sketches, drawings and traced pictures. Instead of outlets of creative expression, this method can be understood as a practical way to acquire and hone technical skills.

A cover goes beyond the processes used to create a copy and rebuilds the original through personal interpretation and re-arrangements. With “recover,” the focus is not on a faithful reproduction of an existing work but on the sensual experience of re-tracing the techniques, structures and thoughts used to create the original.

A remix treats the original song as material and aims to create something new by rearranging its individual tracks and phrases. However, the methods used to remix are not limited to reprocessing and sampling the original song – parts of the song may be subtracted or added, and the song may even be combined with elements from different songs. The possibilities are countless and diverse, and each song’s unique and distinct characteristics demand approaches that are individual to that particular work. The “re” in “recover” signifies an “again”, and also appears in other familiar words like remix, research, relation, record and reaction.

In this exhibition, I looked at, read and traced several artbooks from Case Publishing’s catalogue through a creative method I label “recover.” The original books are placed in front of the artworks that they helped inspire.

— Daijiro Ohara


Daijiro OHARA 大原大次郎

Daijiro Ohara was born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1978. He graduated from Musashino Art University in Tokyo, and started working independently in 2003. He is principal of Omomma, a studio focused on lettering, illustration, motion graphics and art direction. Beside commissioned work for music videos, commercials, packaging and publications, he has also been actively engaged in self-initiated projects, searching for new perceptions of words and letters through exhibitions, workshops and fieldwork. His installation Typogravity is an attempt to find the ur-form of letters in landscapes while his project Riding on Characters shows how the lettering on a skateboard may be altered by physical and environmental factors. His graphic series Ridge Line is the reconstructed mountain photography and trekking map and TypogRAPy is his performance with musician Shuta Hasunuma and rapper Illreme. His project Hello Fukei is a collection of haiku poetry, expressed via mobiles and illustrations. Ohara was the recipient of the 2014 JAGDA New Designer Award and the 2014 Tokyo TDC Award.