Following the artistic encounter between Japanese artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi and British composer Max Richter that explored the notion of time suspended, La Prairie chose to prolong the artistic collaboration to interpret a new chapter in the story of The Platinum Moment.
Eternal Circle, the new work created by Mr Nakanishi, is an extension of his artistic journey, inspired by the artist’s experience in the Swiss mountains for the first chapter. For this iteration, Mr Nakanishi took a conceptual foray into the realm of eternity, the dream of which is the inspiration for La Prairie’s latest creation, Platinum Rare Haute-Rejuvenation Protocol.
The art work, a sixty-piece row of individual stripe drawings, uses a centuries-old Eastern approach to hand-drawing that consists of countless lines drawn free-hand by the artist. Installed in an endless loop, the last drawing of the sequence meets the first and blurs into a single, eternal whole. The drawings have been digitalised to create a film accompanied by Mr Richter’s Platinum track composed and recorded exclusively for La Prairie, complementing the owing loop of stripe drawings with an emotional, soaring rhythm.
Q&A with the artists
QUESTIONS TO NOBUHIRO NAKANISHI, ARTIST
How do you define your art and what is your main source of inspiration?
Everything I create is guided by the experience of time through body movements. My work is about the communion between body and space coming together in a natural space, where emotions are heightened, going beyond tangible art.
How has your heritage influenced your work?
I draw a lot of inspiration from the traditional Japanese architecture and gardens, spaces which allow for the human body and eyes to wander and move around. This thinking is rooted in the Japanese Buddhist, who believe the world is not external to the human body, but the human is part of the layers that make up the world.
Having been fully immersed in the Swiss landscape, the main source of inspiration of La Prairie, how has this inspired you and shaped your creative direction for this work?
Nature is an environment that evolves, changes and creates a scenery beyond our imagination. During my stay in Switzerland with La Prairie, I was fully immersed in the incredible landscapes of the country. I climbed several mountains and experienced the rich minerality that emanates from its peaks. This natural setting – which translates perfectly the notion of time over which we have no control but are merely admirers – is what inspired me to capture such a moment in nature. This work is the continuation of The Platinum Moment collaboration initiated with La Prairie earlier in 2020, this time with a stronger focus on the concept of eternal time.
Tell us about Eternal Circle, the new work your created for La Prairie
In my practice, I focus on two types of works: “Layer Drawing”, a series from which the Echo of Time art piece is part of, and Stripe Drawings. The “Stripe Drawing” series consists of numerous vertical freehand drawn lines by pencil on paper. The set of lines drawn at intervals are adjoining without border defining a pure figure. The lines cannot exist without the gaps, and the blank spaces cannot exist without the lines, therefore co-existing in perfect harmony like two sides of one coin.
Composed of 60 pieces of drawings consisting of horizontal lines and blank spaces, the work combines ancient traditions and craftsmanship with new technology as the drawings are then digitalised into a video work. The work aims to take the viewer through my own journey of time. In the video, the first image and last one are connected similarly to Japanese traditional picture scroll providing a deep connection to the notion of time flowing eternally. It is an endless loop with a changing image that unfolds with time. The fluctuation of the lines conveys the tactile and eternal beauty that I inspired me for the work.
How does it connect with the idea of time and eternity?
The majestic and craggy mountains, the touch of wind and air, the expanse of night sky, all those elements live beyond our time as human beings making our existence ephemeral. Nature makes us feel part of something bigger, as though the length of time is eternal and manifests itself in the cosmos or minerals that we as humans experience through our various senses. That is the feeling I try to capture in my looping drawing – Eternity.
What is so special about this piece?
The movie of the looped drawings describes something very exceptional and intangible I experienced in the Swiss nature: not only by sense of vision but also by sense of physical touch and emotions. In this piece, I have expressed the visible things, and also the invisible relying on my senses.
How do Layer Drawing – Echo of Time and Stripe Drawing Circle complement one another?
When we feel the flow of time, it is a continuation of every single moment. Both works describe the flow of time and require movement of line of sight. Layer Drawing-Echo of Time shows a lump of continuation of moments as a sculpture, it is about capturing one image and making it everlasting through a sculptural prism. Stripe Drawing-Eternity Circle was inspired by my own memories encompassing the full sensorial appreciation of Switzerland – vision, touch, temperature. It feels like a simulated experience of meditation about eternal time. It depicts my memories of Swiss landscapes expressed as a loop of drawings.
What is the story, emotions you want people who viewed the pieces to leave with?
The goal of my work is to depict the Swiss landscapes I experienced where contours, spatial distances and physical boundaries dissolve, leaving a sense of a faraway universe immune to the physical touch. More than just a succession of lines, the pencil drawn landscapes capture the infinite flow of time to create movement between the artwork and the viewer, bonding them through my own representation of nature, and time.
How would you say this piece relates to the concept of the dream?
Whilst drawing the succession of lines depicting my experience in Switzerland, my whole body was transported back to that moment where time stood still and where eternity felt real. It was like dreaming without any spatial or time restriction.
In these trying times, has the crisis influence your way to create and develop your art? Has it inspired you to work differently? How has the digital resurgence influenced your works?
My whole creative process is about capturing the world through my sensorial experiences. During this crisis, I re-acknowledged the significance of the communion between the body and its environment. Inspired by an ancestral technique, freehand drawing is completely disconnected from the online world, the same way my mind was disconnected from any time restrictions whilst creating the artwork.
Seeing the process of these tranquil drawings gaining motions in a digitalised movie felt like traveling across different notion of time.
To me, this work represents a unique opportunity for viewers to think about the relationship between digital tools and the human body.
How did you spend your time during the lockdown? Has it inspired it to work differently?
I reviewed and retouched my past works, tidied up my place to minimalise my stuff. Now my senses feel sharper.
How do you envision the future of the art world?
I think it will become much rarer to touch surroundings. “Touch” doesn’t include only the physical touch, but also every feeling through body perception such as vision, motion, sound, smell, the feeling of wind on your skin, temperature and gravity.
In these days, we are forced to reconsider the importance of sensorial appreciation. It is not a simple question such as binary conflict of analog and digital. We will find out more universal significance beyond this dichotomy.
QUESTIONS MAX RICHTER, COMPOSER
Tell us more about yourself. What is your background?
I am a composer and I work in the field of classical music. I have composed musical scores for various ballets, operas – but also TV and film music.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
Inspiration is something that comes from the process of living. Music is a way to inquire into what our life means and what it is made of. Music is my first language, it is my natural response to everything. Music is wonderful: it’s a wonderful technology, a cognitive technology to uncover what gives life a meaning and how things fit together. In short – my inspiration really comes from the process of living.
What brought you to music?
In my early childhood, I had melodies and pieces of music floating around in my head all the time. I would work with these melodies, play with them like a child does. They were almost like my toys. I would have one piece of music floating around in my head one day – I would pick it up the next day, change it, transform it. That was very satisfying to me. Later on, I realised that not everyone had this sort of process in his head. I was actually composing music. It has been with me always.
Do you have particular moments or memories linked to music that are stronger than others?
Of course – a lot of formative moments. A lot of them again came in my childhood. I remember for instance the first time I consciously listened to the music of Bach, and being struck by the fact that beyond the beauty of the composition, there was also a kind of logic to it. A kind of sense of the inevitable, where the sounds themselves end up being something more than themselves. That to me was a magical process, and I wanted to try to discover how this could happen.
THE ART COMMISSION FOR LA PRAIRIE AT WESTBUND
Tell us more about your collaboration with La Prairie. What does the brand evoke to you?
The first thing that stroke me about La Prairie was a sense of spaciousness in the various sort of media and communication objects I received. There is a clear sense of what is fundamental, which is very important to me. I think a lot in terms of landscape when I’m composing – the piece of music is a place I inhabit. Landscapes should never be too busy – and here there was plenty of space, which is beautiful and very comfortable.
Tell us more about the musical piece you have created for La Prairie. What inspired you during the creative process?
My starting point for this musical piece was a kind of imaginary landscape, an atmosphere which became increasingly elaborated. It is almost like you’re pulling focus on a camera: it starts out rather diffuse, but has a kind of shifting quality which pulls you slowly into focus by becoming more concrete and more melodic.
This piece in particular has a strong emotionality. As human beings, emotions are very important – they are fundamental in our lives. And music is fundamentally an emotional language: we get affected by sounds. These sounds can hit us and create something magical inside. To me, this is what sets music apart: it has the ability to move us. And I wanted this composition to have that quality.
How would you describe the musical piece Platinum in three words?
This is actually really difficult. I guess the first word would be Platinum itself. I believe the sort of imagery and emotionality of the element itself conveys already a lot of messages. It’s obviously precious, it’s rare – it has a kind of uniqueness and distinctiveness. The colour of course is also really important. There is a certain purity to it. I also wanted the piece to be experienced on a very personal level. It has an individuality, it’s about triggering a kind of personal connection.
Tell us more about the recording of the piece. What is so unique about it?
The recording session took place at Air Studios in North London. Air Studios is my favourite studio, I work here all the time. The studio was founded by George Martin, who was The Beatles’ producer. It’s a magical place – we had a large orchestra, and it was a very fulfilling recording session. Also, the orchestra was made of countless players I have worked with for years. There is a strong sense of community and a tremendous creative ambition at Air Studios, and I do not think you can record in better conditions anywhere in the world.
What emotions do you want to evoke or to provoke when one listens to the composition?
I think this composition is really about an atmosphere or a landscape being established. It starts with pulsating choral strings, before you enter an individual acoustic figure, as if you were entering into a landscape. Suddenly you are transformed by this new spatial encounter, it provokes a dynamic encounter with a new world and makes you feel alive. For me, the melodic aspect of this piece speaks to one’s individual experience of the landscape.
What does the notion of time and space mean to you? How do you express the correlation between those two elements in your artistic work?
Time and space are two axes that we live on, that we move through. In the way our consciousness is built, we seem to be able to move through both in an objective sense and also subjectively. Time doesn’t always appear to float at the same speed which is mysterious. This is the kind of thing a piece of music can trigger: it can stop time or speed time up, it can make time feel more intense. To feel it “passing” or “not passing”: this is one of the elements enhanced by music, it can manipulate our sense of the moment. Everything is relative: we have these absolute “time and space” constraints, but our experience of them is completely mediated by our mind. As we experience music in our minds, all are tied together.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity stipulates that time cannot exist without space and space cannot exist without time. What is your interpretation of Einstein’s concept of time? Does the Theory of Relativity inspire you in your work?
This is one of those fundamental questions that rises all sorts of ideas. It opens up certain granular aspects of both space and time, makes you think of time on a new scale. In space, as a physical object – it’s a mind blowing idea and an inevitable logic. To me, many interesting concepts have an intuitive connection or understanding with scientific theories.
You are talking about science: what is the relation you made between science and art?
Science and art are closely related. They are both inquiries into the nature of the world. One of them from a data perspective, and another one from a feeling perspective. They are absolutely linked. The most obvious sort of meeting point between music and science are mathematics. In music, the patterns of music are clearly mathematical.
La Prairie is intrinsically connected to the notion of time. For the collaboration with La Prairie, the house strives to recreate The Platinum Moment. What is The Platinum Moment to you?
There is something quite special about recording: it is the process of turning something which you have imagined and making it an object in the world. It is a very puzzling and mysterious process – suddenly it speaks to people, you have turned a thing from “non-existing” to “existing”. It is special, this process of things being invented right in front of you.
How did you relate to the notion of eternity?
I find there is something very relaxing about thinking of bigger time scales – the concept of deep time. If you rewind the clock a hundred millions years or fast forward a hundred millions years: most things will be the same. We “may” or “may not” be here – but it does not really matter if we are here or not. Present moments both are incredibly important and completely irrelevant. It’s really an interesting paradox, and somehow I feel this is where the concept of eternity is rooted. I personally very much like this concept: it makes me feel calm.
For this new venture, La Prairie commissioned an artistic encounter between you and Japanese artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi. How do you feel about this artistic collaboration?
I am very excited about it. I have known his works for a long time. So I was really looking forward to seeing his response to the music and to the concept.
Music is made up of a sequence of sounds and silences strung together in rhythm. What does this notion express to you?
The rhythmic measure to music is about how we convey the listener’s consciousness from A to B, and how grained that journey is. Whether it is big leaps or small moments, whether your intention is broadly the same throughout or whether it is focused in a moment. That sense of propulsion one feels when being carried through a piece of music: this is exactly how the rhythm is handled. In this precise musical composition, the very beginning part is almost like a suspended state. There is a kind of feeling of floating. As the piece develops, there are more and more rhythmic elements joining in, allowing one to travel more quickly through the rhythmic landscape. To me, a lot of my composing work is about how you carry the listener’s consciousness through a piece of music. Which things “they noticed” and which things “just kind of happened”.
Switzerland is intrinsically linked to the notion of time. Why do you think that is?
It certainly has to do with the idea of a Swiss watch: it has become an image linked to our global culture. Precision, perfection, all of this: it is just one of those things we reach for as an idea off the shelf. The very object of the Swiss watch – this very precious object – encapsulates the idea of precision and time passing.
PLATINUM RARE HAUTE-REJUVENATION PROTOCOL
Official launch date, February 15th, 2021
Pictures & Text: Courtesy of La Prairie