Two large and graphic panels carrying chrome-coated blade-shaped structures display photographs of guns and pistols embedded in the human hand – media as extensions of man – conjuring past and present human-machine relations and the use of images and information in war (Faded Virtue, 2018; Old Glory, 2018). Referencing the Situationists’; détournement as an act of reverse propaganda using the power of media and advertising against itself, Ito does not praise gun violence but addresses the continuous assimilation of the body into the mechanics of the modern war machine. Expansion, efficiency and security are expressed through incarceration, displacement and cultural erasure.
These very thoughts manifest in another pair of works in which the artist refers to a violent chapter in his own familial history: A photograph depicting Ito’s grandparents in the western desert, respectively on the grounds of a U.S. camp illegally placed on Native American land where they have been held captive during WWII (Possession II (concealed carry), 2018), and another, showing Ito’s grandfather in front of D.C. Capitol where he was summoned to be questioned shortly after his release from imprisonment (Possession I (passive aggressor), 2018). Both photographs have counterparts in images of weaponry designed for concealed carry, yet ready for a quick draw.
Highlighting the close ties of culture production and the reproduction of cultural images as concealment of the instrumentation of the human body as a tool Ito’s works express the future-projectas machinic, violent and bound to the powerful rhetoric of futurity. In a grand finale a hand sculpted chrome form resembling an amalgamation of both the blade and the wheel as signifiers of tools created by man to serve progress and therefore inseparably tied to violence, becomes something alien and foreign: an artifact from a future yet to be lived, but already prone to corrosion from within (You Promised Catastrophe (Needle in a Heap of Grease), 2018). Combined imagery of the 1964 New York World Fair, aerodynamic vehicles, U.S. Highways and people aiming at the onlookers with guns the sculpture conveys a glimpse into a current state of vacuum, where the concept of future has become obsolete: In our common concept of time only the present exists, while past and future remain “unreal”, abstract, clouded, a matter of retrospect or projection. Ito’s sculpture itself is a non-historical object, a hyperobject in multiple states of time, showing signs of corrosion from all angles.
No matter how you look at it, our fetishized cult-objects and cultural products are merely a relic of a future past.
With the acceleration of all matter, of information, production, consumption and warfare the process of reverse progress has become virulent: Moving from product to service, our fetishized tools have been automated and outsourced, be it the assembly line, automobiles or drones all ruled by artificial intelligence beyond human control. The weapons are taken out of our hands, and gradually being replaced by invisible machinery.