“Image Langue: Linear Code” at the ICN gallery

The current exhibition at the ICN gallery in Shoreditch is “Image Langue: Linear Code”  by artist Gen Miyamura.

"Image Langue: Linear Code" by Gen Miyamura, at the ICN gallery

Gen Miyamura

Shizuoka born Miyamura has created works which draw on the traditional Bokusho-style of calligraphy, and create a new kind of abstract expressionism. In this exhibition, “Image Langue: Linear Code”, Miyamura has built on his original dot codes, which represented the 48 hiragana characters:

"Image Langue: Linear Code" by Gen Miyamura, at the ICN gallery

"Dot Code: I Ro Ha Ni Ho He To"

…and produced linear codes which represent the Western alphabet:

"Image Langue: Linear Code" by Gen Miyamura, at the ICN gallery

Linear Code

"Image Langue: Linear Code" by Gen Miyamura, at the ICN gallery

Linear Code explained

Miyamura doesn’t use a traditional calligraphy brush. Instead, he uses a technique called decalcomania where sumi (ink) is transferred to the board using different mediums and friction.

I have to be honest and say that, while I like the concept of what Miyamura is doing, I didn’t really “get” the exhibition. I’m not going to try to explain it too much – I couldn’t – but I will refer you to this excellent interview with Gen Miyamura over at Diverse Japan. You’ll be able to learn a lot more about Miyamura’s work and ideas, and see some excellent photographs of his work.

I will share one personal thought about this exhibition, though. While I’m happy to admit that I didn’t really understand the artworks themselves, I think I did “get” the concept. When I was a kid, I remember creating a secret code with my best friends that only we could read. We could write it really fast, and would exchange notes with each other. Now, as an adult studying Japanese, I have that same feeling of discovering a secret code that a limited number of people can understand (albeit a much larger number of people than those who could read my childhood code). Miyamura may not intend his Dot Code or Linear Code to be used for every day communication, but the same concept of playing with language is there as I experienced when I was a child. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so focussed on A being A or あ being あ, but consider the possible alternatives…

For more information about the exhibition, or the ICN gallery in general, please visit the ICN website. Gen Miyamura’s exhibition runs until February 22nd, and his website can be found here (English/Japanese).

2 thoughts on ““Image Langue: Linear Code” at the ICN gallery

  1. That sounds extremely fascinating and I wish I could go and see the exhibit! Thanks for giving a run-down of what was being shown. 🙂 Since coming to Japan, I haven’t been able to get around to many art exhibits like I used in college (helped that I was an art major too), so seeing things like this makes me really happy~


    • Thanks for stopping by, Indi! I’m lucky that there are so many interesting exhibitions here in London, and quite a few Japan-related exhibitions. I hope you get to see some art in Japan soon! 🙂


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