DIY/punkish neo-dada collage has long informed a trail of noise rock visuals. Flipping through RE/Search’s Industrial Culture Handbook from 1983 registers the tropes of these aggregated aesthetics: atrocities in Ben-Day dots, scrappily cut from bad photocopies, desultorily attached to cassette covers and zine covers, scrawled with Wite-Out and frenzied biro. It’s a murky world of vague angst claimed by an aggravated youth raging against the world with flagrant imprecision. Maybe the ejaculatory Uzi-spray of violent imagery is the point. Whatever the case, it borders on quaintness now—particularly as so much of it lacks the acuity of original collage iconoclasts like Jamie Reid, Linder Sterling, The People’s Republic, Barney Bubbles, The Cryptic Corporation and Devo Inc.
Quaint was not in my lexicon as I wandered through Masaya Nakahara’s exhibition of collaged paintings in the small upstairs gallery space of Waiting Room in Ebisu. Better known to noise-heads from the early ‘90s as Violent Onsen Geisha, or more recently, Hair Stylistics, Nakahara has diversified his practice over the years to include painting, film criticism and novel writing. Noise remains integral to his collage methodology. Most of the works are original gallery pieces from the last few years; quite a few have accompanied Hair Stylistics’ releases and flyers. On the one hand, the works’ aggression conforms to a certain mono-dimensionality in noise culture with its time-frozen sense of avant-radicalism and flounced polemics. On the other hand, the exhibition allows one to dive into the semiotic murkiness of Nakahara’s fascinating artworks, as they visually echo his collaged ‘anti-music’ bursting with sardonic playfulness and brute assemblage.