Anthropomorphized Felines On the Prowl at the Everson

A pack of cats have taken over the plaza adjacent to the Everson Museum of Art. The felines creep up at dusk and mysteriously vanish by 11 p.m. Attempts to physically capture the critters had been futile so far.

These aren’t regular cats. Instead, they are anthropomorphic animals, meaning they possess human characteristics such as walking on two legs.

Image courtesy of Syracuse Guru

The cats are the main stars of a video suite currently being screened in the Everson Plaza. They are the brainchildren of Brooklyn-based artist Yui Kugimiya.

Anneka Herre, technical producer at the Urban Video Project (UVP), which put the show on, said that each video lasts about a minute and they run at 30-frames per second. “This gives them a unique density, and they are full of poetry and humor,” she said.

UVP is a venue for the public presentation of video and electronic arts and an undertaking dedicated to outdoor video art projections, according to its press release. UVP is a multimedia public art initiative of Light Work and Syracuse University, operating on the Connective Corridor, it reads.

The set runs on a loop and it includes 12 videos with titles such as “Cat Walking” (2007), “Cat Brushing Teeth” (2008) and “Cat Moshimoshi” (2008). Another piece, which is untitled, is the exception to the rule as it features a feline walking on four legs, to the music of Paris-based composer Daniel Wohl, performed by the band Transit. An extra video, “Love Letter” (2011), plays to Nat King Cole’s song with the same title.

Kugimiya said that literature has been a major inspiration for her works. She shot her animation “”Cronica de una Muerte Anunciada” (2012), which is also part of the show, after reading the novel “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” by Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a figure of the magic realism school. An additional great literary influence on her has been Japonese novelist Haruki Murakami, winner of the Catalunya International Prize.

Kugimiya said she was particularly moved by Murakami’s prize acceptance speech, titled “As an Unrealistic Dreamer.”

She quoted the novelist as saying: “In Japanese, we have the world ‘mujo’. It means that everything is ephemeral. Everything born into this changes, and will ultimately disappear. There is nothing that can be considered eternal or immutable. This view of the world was derived from Buddhism, but the idea of ‘mujo’ was burned into the spirit of Japanese people beyond the strictly religious context, taking root in the common ethnic consciousness from ancient times.”

Kugimiya said that she utilizes almost life-size feline characters to reenact ordinary life while they are doing conventional things such as smoking, ordering a blueberry cake or talking on a cell phone, all of which, at a given moment, turn into unconventional things.

“There is a quality of shamanism, a creative energy in the cats, that I use to show that it’s possible to transcend the experience of ordinary life,” she said. “I just become aware of and pay attention to the details of intimate moments.”

The video show is being projected on the north facade of the Everson Museum Thursdays through Saturdays until Feb. 22.




— Article by Miguel Balbuena, Community Correspondent for The Stand

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