The ongoing series MINERALS is an examination of stereotyping – the hidden systems that inevitably drive human behavior in all cultures and societies. It was initially developed in the United States using references from American culture. The series was later reinterpreted to address a Japanese audience following a 2-month research residency at Tokyo Arts and Space. As a dual French/American citizen, I plan to extend the series to encompass references from the cultures of France and French-speaking nations.
The Japanese segment of the “Minerals” series is an offshoot of the earlier American Minerals work.
“Minerals” are a mashup of pop culture, sociology, scientific data and the raw beauty of stones. These large acrylic paintings show crystal shapes against the backdrop of scientific mineral data that has been reinterpreted as scales of human traits. Each mineral property (hard, dense, lustrous, etc.) is represented by a famous face plucked from the spectrum of contemporary Japanese cultural references. The faces used in these works come from extensive cultural research and polling undertaken while in residence at Tokyo Arts and Space (formerly Tokyo Wonder Site) in 2015.
The series was originally developed using faces that are famous in America, proving that – regardless of culture – a cliché, a stereotype or a façade always hides something more complex.
The Mineralogical Scales (Japanese Interpretation):
- High Hardness: Ken Takakura, Japanese mafia (“yakuza”) film star
- Low Hardness: Funassyi, cuddly pear mascot of the city of Funabashi
- High Color: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Harajuku style icon
- Low Color: Kaonashi, faceless spirit from the Miyazaki film “Spirited Away”
- High Streak (true color): Black Jack, good Samaritan with a scary face from the manga series by Osamu Tezuka
- Low Streak (true color): Mamoru Samuragochi, the fraudulent “Japanese Beethoven” who feigned deafness
- High Transparency: Haruka Ayase, actress who is famous for her flawlessly pale complexion
- Low Transparency: Danté Carver, American actor well known as Softbank’s “Yosō Guy”
- High Luster: Sachiko Kobayashi, “Queen of Enka”, famous for elaborately lit-up costumes
- Low Luster: kuroko, stagehand dressed in black so as to seem invisible
- High Cleavage (splits cleanly): Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister whose policies sharply divide Japanese public opinion
- Low Cleavage (doesn’t split): Ieyasu Tokugawa, Shōgun who unified Japan
- High Habit/Form (shape): Shinichi Shinohara, champion Judoka who stands tall at 190cm
- Low Habit/Form (shape): Takashi Okamura, comedian known for his diminutive stature
- High Density: Matsuko Deluxe, corpulent TV personality
- Low Density: Ittan Momen, an evil yokai that takes the form of a flying sheet of fabric
- High Symmetry: The Touch, comedy duo comprised of identical twin brothers
- Low Symmetry: Takeshi Kitano, celebrated filmmaker with partial facial paralysis
- High Radioactivity: Genpatsu-kun, animated character (“Nuclear Power Plant Boy”) by Kazuhiko Hachiya that appeared on Japanese television on March 15, 2011
- Low Radioactivity: Katsushika Hokusai, famed ukiyo-e artist who used Prussian Blue pigment, an antidote to radiation poisoning