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screen-print, screen-print on paper, photo-documentation, photo-documentation of performance art, photos as core samples of a performance, earth core samples, artist questions as visual imagery, vertical drilling, earth, art as performance, the environment, earth's resources, conservation of natural resources, preservation of earth, performance art, sound and art, creating sound, absence of sound, Japanese rock garden, talking to a rock, animating a rock, initiating a conversation with a rock, rock talk, humour in art, playing with idea, creativity, exploring ideas, using technology to explore idea in art, journalism style applied to art, location of artist in relation to an artwork, capturing a viewer's attention humour, rocks, portrait, self-portrait, screen-print, natural resources, rock, microphone, headphones, communcation, talking, language, play, sound,

Kubota's Roctoc

The  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  Roctoc has a companion  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  titled Tocroc and these two pieces act like photo-documentation for a  performanceAn art form in which the actions of a person or group in a particular place at a particular time constitute the artwork; all works of performance art therefore incorporate time, space, the performer’s body, and the relationship between performer and viewer.  Kubota has created.  Kubota’s interest in sound and the creation of sound, or in this case the lack of sound, is evident in his use of microphones and headsets in his imagery.  In previous works he used rocks and ideas related to the Japanese rock garden, and in this work he animates the rock and initiates a conversation.  He creates a simple, striking, and somewhat humorous, black-and-white photographic  lithographA form of printmaking where an artist prepares a stone for printing and draws an image using a grease pencil. The technique works on the principle that oil and water repel each other.  print.

start quoteArt is secondary. It's a vehicle towards becoming as complete a human being as possible.end quote
-- Nobuo Kubota (Youngs 1975)

The viewer gets the impression that Kubota playfully set the headphones upon a rock, seeing potential for an exploration into the diverse ideas and materials of technology and the natural environment.  He locates himself within the print wearing headsets and holding a microphone.  The serious deadpan expression on his face is reminiscent of a journalist in the process of interviewing an important client.  His sense of humour is obvious in his foolish expectation that the inanimate rock will listen and reply.  He captures the viewer’s attention with the image of this futile dialogue and encourages the question, “Why?”

Exploration GeologistIn geological science, the  strataA bed of earth or rock of one kind, formed by natural causes, and consisting usually of a series of layers, which form a rock as it lies between beds of other kinds. Also used figuratively. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of layered rock represent geological time.   Examination of rocks through  seismicOf or pertaining to an earthquake; caused by an earthquake. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  testing and drilling into the earth’s surface allow scientists to understand time and events of millions of previous years.  A  geologistOne versed in the science of geology. Geology (n.) The science which treats: (a) Of the structure and mineral constitution of the globe; structural geology. (b) Of its history as regards rocks, minerals, rivers, valleys, mountains, climates, life, etc.; historical geology. (c) Of the causes and methods by which its structure, features, changes, and conditions have been produced; dynamical geology. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  looking at core samples of vertical drilling into the earth’s  surface(an element of art) The outer or topmost boundary or layer of an object. Colours on any surface are determined by how incident rays of light strike it, and how a surface reflects, scatters, and absorbs those rays. The material qualities of a surface, as well as its form and texture further determine how it is seen and felt. ( See also texture.  can determine if oil, diamonds, gold or any other commodities are present.  The rock in the core samples literally talks to the geologists who analyse them.  Mining is a huge, world-wide industry, and Kubota could be questioning whether the planet’s natural resources will at some point be depleted. If only the rocks could really talk!

additional resources Things to Think About
  • In Roctoc, Kubota sets up the rock with headsets and he is interviewing or questioning it.  What questions could he be asking the rock?  What do you think the rock would say if it could reply?
  • Go to the Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art's video portraits of Nobuo Kubota to learn more about the artist and his ideas. For further ideas related specifically to Roctoc go to the Phonic link on this website.
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Nobuo Kobuta is interested in sound and actually creating sound in his artwork.

Explore more websites related to sound art at Sound art:  useful web resources.

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  • Take another look at Nobuo Kubota’s work presented in this theme.

Still life

Kubota is basically self-taught in many of his artistic endeavours.  His training in architecture prepared him for the careful attention to detail he incorporates in his art-making processes.

Technology and evolution

Writer Paul Dutton says that Kubota, “ eloquently and elegantly thinks by doing.”

  • Start by finding some discarded materials related to technology such as computer components, keyboards, spark plugs, electrical wire, windshield wiper blades, hand tools, etc.  Try not to have a preconceived plan. Enjoy the process of examining the materials and looking at them in a new way
  • As you work through the process of creation, think of a strong visual statement you can make using the materials at hand. Seek out more materials if necessary.
  •  Most importantly, allow the artwork to evolve as you work.

Dutton, Paul.  ‘Sonic: The Cross-Disciplinary Art of Nobuo Kubota.’  Musicwork 65, Summer 1996, pp23-29.

Heath, Terrance.  Pointless Circularity: The Art of Nobuo Kubota.  Exhibition catalogues.  The Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, British Columbia, 1999.

Youngs, Christopher.  Nobuo Kubota.  Exhibition catalogue.  Owens Art Gallery. Mt. Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, 1975.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning