In the classic game of pick-up sticks, 41 wooden sticks of the same length are dropped onto a surface in a jumble and players alternate picking up one stick at a time without moving the others. Named for the highest-scoring stick, the blue “Mikado,” or Emperor of Japan, it is a simple game, but one of ultimate precision. Polish photographer Igor Omulecki considers the relationship between order and chaos in his series Mikado, where his self-imposed rules are more poetic than literal, but there are some similarities. Omulecki was inspired by his 9 year old son, Ignacy, who had been using various wooden and found elements around their property in Warsaw to build spontaneous installations. He was fascinated by his son’s vital creativity and the primordial energy of creating that leads to making an object. Each image in this series of photographs reveals the steps required in the building of an image. In a way, we see the inside of the photographs. The traces of the tool he uses to create them become as important as the reality of the image as a whole. Cutting, cloning, and smudging the image constructs and interprets a new reality of each image, amounting to a record or digital sculpture of each photograph.
Dovetail: What does the title of the series Mikado mean?
IGOR: Mikado, a Japanese game that I refer to in my work, resembles pick-up sticks. We throw the sticks that later need to be gently lifted without interrupting the whole. Comparing this game to the rules of creating this project is more poetic and stipulated than literal, but there are certain similarities.
Dovetail: How do you make these images? What is the process like?
IGOR: In my work on Mikado I reveal the inside of building an image. Through demonstrating the initial gesture, the traces of the tool become as important as the registered reality. Cutting, cloning and smudging the image serve to construct and interpret the record. In the result, there appears a previously non-existent photographic image and a new reality of it. The real world becomes a material to be shaped on an energetic level. Mikado is a sculpture of photographic sphere that extracts the shape and structure of post-image.
Dovetail: What was your inspiration for the series?
IGOR: I have been working on these project 3 years. The inspiration for this series has been spontaneous installations created by my 9-year-old son, Ignacy. He has been using various wooden elements to build structures. I was fascinated by his vitality and creativity, a primordial energy of creating that leads to making an object. . In the case of such a young child it is hard to talk about conscious usage of the visual experience. He is guided by a sense of harmony and elementary principles of composition which have their roots in the structure of visual perception. It is a kind of a play that becomes a form of interference in space and object. The sourcing creative imperative is a vibration and energy that manifest themselves through creation of a new form. •
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