Posted:Jul 1, 2007

A-Lunch: toward an open art system

“A-Lunch” started in the last year 2005, as an initiative by artist Tomoko Konoike to offer an alternative relationship between artists and the audience.

The concept is simple: what would happen when art pieces are shown just as in restaurants where visitors can ‘order’ art works upon their own criteria, instead of the one-way exhibitions such as in galleries or museums? Conclusion: it is simply a real eye-opener.

So here is the version 2.0, or 1.5 should I say. As an early critic of Konoike’s work, I was honored by the chance to discuss with the artist since last year about the concept of A-Lunch in a more abstract level. Carrying a research on free culture in relation with media art institution, the idea could only be overlapped with the Web2.0 / open-source model to me. Where is the righteousness of the act of curating (in its classical definition at least) for us who dwell in a participatory culture today? How can you open up the system of exhibiting art works in a way the viewers would benefit from the points of view of criticism and creativity? After days and hours of talks and brain storming, the idea was strengthened and sometime developed other seeds of workshops and institution. In the most radical sense, this new concept is still in its transitionally phase of achieving a real state of openness and interactivity (this is why I think it’s still version 1.5), but more practical discussions are still on-going with the artist. After all, Konoike is an artist more devoted to rule-making rather than goal-setting (she is also releasing her animation work under a Creative Commons license )

This year’s A-Lunch was carefully organized by Konoike and her excellent team consisting of art students and professional curators. In addition, as opposed to the previous show, this one gathered an impressive number of well-known and experienced artists. The list ranges from ‘experts’ such as Yasumasa Morimura, Yukio Fujimoto or Kaoru Motomiya, to younger generations like AreYouMeaningCompany, Satoshi Otsuka, or Hanako Murayama.

I sat there on a table and ordered about 10 pieces, which lead me to an ineffable trip for about 2 hours. The strangest feeling I had was that impression of being in an imaginary archive of art history, where you can take note while holding the art work with your hands, as if they belong to the public domain. In fact, each artist configured their work to fit the style: whether it is photography, kinetic art, book print or sculpture, the work is not hang on the wall, but it is placed on your table.

I will not comment about each work here, as the most important idea this show conveys is that every visitor should express about what she selected = comitted herself and interacted with. As one custommer, I was quite satisfied with the menu I degusted today. This show is recommendable literally to anyone seeking new cultural experience or looking for ephemeral comfort. And do not forget: if you like the cuisine, you can always call the chef and have a discussion, and even buying the recipe.

Dominick Chen

Dominick Chen

Born 1981 in Tokyo. Citizen of the Sixth French Republic (not the current one, but the next). Originally from a Media Arts &amp; Design and Contemporary Arts study background, he is currently conducting research into massive micro creativity through online media technology as a Fellow Researcher of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science at the University of Tokyo, Initiative in Interdisciplinary Information studies (iii). Also committed to developing a freer Internet culture, he is the Public Head of NPO Creative Commons Japan, and served as member of the International Advisory Committee for Ars Electronica 2007's Digital Community category. Parallel and on-going projects include: - <a href="">HIVE</a>, the open video archive for NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC] - <a href="">DIVVY/dual</a>: open-ended art practice platform - <a href="">pri/pro</a>: electronic circuit developed by Ryota Kuwakubo