8 Hours

Photography by MIYAJIMA Kei ©︎AOYAMA Satoru, Courtesy of Mizuma Art Gallery

Satoru Aoyama
8 Hours
Embroidery (polyester thread) on paper
52 x 70 cm

Satoru Aoyama was born in 1973. After studying textile at Goldsmiths College, he took a masters course in Chicago. He creates artworks through embroidery using industrial sewing machines, penetrating relationships between society and human beings.

There is embroidery on the entire surface of polyester cloth that constitutes this artwork. The flag in the centre was used in May Day and Labor Day demonstrations and parades; the original words were "8 hours labour, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours rest". This slogan was advocated by Robert Owen, a businessman and social activist known as the father of British socialism in the early 19th century, during movements to improve the working environment. The artist arranged the term in a modern way; "8 hours labour, 8 hours research, 8 hours rest". The background is not the scenery of demonstrations back when the flag was used, but a park in contemporary Tokyo.

It is no exaggeration to say that we who live in an internet society are constantly staring at screens of smartphones and laptops except during work and sleep, single-mindedly researching to obtain information. The industrial sewing machine used by Aoyama is the origin of machines born after the Industrial Revolution and is closely related to labour. In recent years, the form of labour itself has been changing due to the development of technologies such as AI. This work created through manual labour and sewing machines pose questions about the new relation between labour and everyday life, and the relationship between technology and human beings.

(Commentary: Miwa Taguchi / Translation: Emma Tsuji Harrison)