Undoing Technology: Nao Tatsumi’s Global Landscapes.

May 30, 2019

Undoing Technology: Nao Tatsumi’s Global Landscapes.

Nao Tatsumi lives and works in Japan and she is like a super-hero with a secret weapon: she discovered how to travel in time and space through Street View. Nao uses Google Earth as a medium of inspiration for her drawings and paintings of intriguing and captivating scenes. The static, monochromatic digital landscapes on the screen are both the muse and the data for Nao to create (or should I say re-create) her own vibrant, colorful and somewhat mysterious paintings.

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One cannot trace the digital tool that served as the model for her illustrations, for the quietness and stillness of her scenes are not the cold surface of a human-less world or a result of a technology of surveillance, but the transformation of an inert image into a dynamic work of art.

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There is something intense and captivating about that chair placed in front of the motel as if we were witnessing a fragment of a story that needs to be told.


Or the perfect perspective point of the two converging line of palm trees delineating the road that makes us wonder where the highway might take us and who is driving the imaginary car in that imaginary road movie. We can’t find the evidence of the digital surface in Nao’s paintings, and we don’t actually need it. For her landscapes are not lonely sites but scenes full of stories hiding behind objects or places we’ve never been. Her work is like a post-beatnik-On-The-Road transformation of technology. For what those landscapes reveal are a synthesis of all that is human, the beauty and the loneliness, the possibilities and the impossibilities, and moreover, a reflection of our own place in the world.

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Explore Nao’s limited edition prints @ http://bit.ly/2r3Ryno

 Nao Tatsumi Interview with Toi Art Gallery.

 1. When did you start drawing?

 I like drawing since I was a child, but I started learning it when I was 17 years old for the entrance exam for the University. After that, long time after graduating from university, I studied illustration at Aoyama-juku in Tokyo 4 years ago.

 2. How is your work place like?

 I do most of my drawing and painting in a corner of the living room. There is a computer monitor on a large desk in front of me; my painting tools on my right and my two dogs that are always around. I can see a magnolia tree outside the window. I feel so good when I hear birds singing.

 3.You graduated in architectural design, how does your background in architecture influence your artistic work?

 Actually, I gave up becoming an architect. As I studied the work of masters such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Frank O Gehry, Tadao Ando,… I thought it was absolutely impossible for me to come close to those works. But now that I paint, I realized that I am drawn to architecture. Architecture in all its forms and ways of thinking influences my work; it guides, in a way, what I draw, my paintings and illustrations.

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Tadao Ando Building

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Frank Llyod Wright House

 4. Why did you choose to focus on landscapes?

 I wanted to “draw” people by not drawing people. I don’t want my drawing to be limited by having to represent actual people in it. By expressing the absence of their presence, I believe that people can feel they inhabit my paintings.

 5. You get inspiration “travelling the world” with Google Street View images, tell us more about this: how did you discover this and why do you use G.E?

 As I draw landscapes, it’s hard for me to find all the variety of scenes that I want to draw as a motif. By using Google street view it is possible for me to find neutral images--in the sense of looking through nobody’s eyes--(that is to say, Google street view vehicle’s eye). It is interesting to me that a trivial scene can be attractive and call my attention, even if it’s a place that people usually wouldn’t pay attention to. That’s the reason why I use Google street view.

 6. What was the most striking image you’ve found on Google street view?

 Sometimes I find some distorted landscapes on it. These peculiar landscapes, transformed by technology are like fantastic or mythological spaces that don’t belong, as if time and space are interconnected, or even disconnected; it's very interesting.

 7. Is technology a fundamental part of your work?

 It’s not a fundamental part, but it is one way to connect the present paradigm of the world into my work.

 8. You travel the world using a technological support, how do you translate this into an artistic experience?

 As you know, we live in an analog world and we perceive it with our analog vision.

My intention is to turn the actual landscapes into my artworks using technology. Technology allows me to turn these digital images into an analog vision and to get a more real perspective of the landscapes I paint. I think technology is a more global way to looking at things, it connects my work with the present time we live in.

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 9. What are your favorite landscapes?

I like the landscapes with clear cast shadows, artifacts, and billboard characters.

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10. The famous photographer Ansel Adams once said: “To the complaint, 'There are no people in these photographs,' I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.” How do you think this regarding to your work on digital images?

This expresses exactly what I want to convey about my work. I believe that for us (for me as a painter and for you as a viewer), no representation of people is needed in order to reflect about people.

11. What are your future projects?

Currently I plan to collaborate with numerous people all over the world using Google map "pins". One thing that fascinates me about it is that we can share our images instantly. Also, I would love to have a solo show somewhere in the world…

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  By Karina Miller

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