Mayumi Nishida’s current practice extends the lineage of Op Art to reexamine the interfaces between art and the mechanics of perception. In addition to a haunting installation, her current exhibition presents nine medium-format reliefs constructed of a thin sheet constituting hundreds of glass and/or acrylic spheres suspended between viewers’ and a mirrored backdrop. Closely allied with the recent work of Heather Carson and Iván Navarro, and owing in part to their highly regulated surfaces and disciplined economy of means, her works amplify minute shifts in ambient light relative to the position of the spectator. Though their aesthetic cohesion makes it difficult to name any individual work a standout, the intense reactivity of “Refrain” is exceptionally rewarding to the patient viewer. A step in any given direction can transform a series of illusory chevrons into a plane of shimmering grey circles.
Despite the exceedingly rewarding complexities of Nishida’s reliefs, her viewer-activated installation “Introduction to Water” commands the center of attention. Motivated by the artist’s recent experience of moving off the grid, the work is said to serve as a visual transcription of the Japanese phrase megumi no ame, meaning “a welcome rain.” Merging a ritualistic event with cutting-edge green technology, the work invites viewers to ladle rainwater collected from the artist’s rural studio in to a ceramic vessel seemingly adrift in a steel cistern. As the vessel fills, overhanging LEDs powered by a discrete solar charged battery shimmer at an accelerating pace. At once fully immersive and deceptively simple, the work shares a certain allegiance with Yayoi Kusama’s mesmerizing recent installation “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity,” in which an infinity room is suffused with minute lights reflected towards infinity above a pool of stygian water. Yet, Nishida’s embrace of interactivity both extends and realizes such installations’ meanings to bridge the divide between the metaphysical and the political. The work thus produces a potent meditation on our shared complicity in diverse networks of the consumption, creation, and redistribution of natural and manufactured resources.