Life Scroll, is a highly detailed and sustained drawing in pen on paper which continues as a daily discipline. The drawing started in 1991 and is now 17 meters long. Kentaro Chibafs fluctuations of expression between his late 30s and the present day are evidenced on this scroll.
Distant and anonymous vision :
To release the scroll from linguistic definitions and a narrow range of classification, Chiba has intentionally opted for automatic drawing, creating a space loaded with contradiction; not least, by consciously contrasting Western perspective expression and mirrored projection (using water surfaces), with Eastern contra-perspective, isometric projection methods and the birds-eye view. From the beginning, he has been interested in the idea of the distant view, which can suggest the absence of a viewer or an invisible viewer in the distance. For Chiba, distant and anonymous vision, without evidence of a viewer, suggests a kind of visual purity.
Over 25 yearsf of accumulated daily drawing has made the scroll a more neutral than personal expression. Life Scroll consists of numerous fragments, aspects of the artist, which are transient and ephemeral. On the other hand, Life Scroll can be considered as a stream of consciousness. Chiba believes that a scroll, in terms of format, can mirror the depths of the subconscious (Alaya, in Sanskrit) where the border between individuals and the rules of linguistic division are supposed to vanish. Chiba believes that to emphasize only time passing is wrong. In the scroll, time and space seem to flow but at the same time, to be synchronic as an aggregation of numerous moments. As such, time becomes ambiguous. The scroll suggests narrativity (and so, time) over a long span of years but can also be considered, away from linguistic assertions, a panorama on a distant horizon.
Time-lapse animation :
The process of this work has also been recorded as daily photocopies (1991-2004) and scans (2004-), and Chiba produces animations from these. He finished the first animation in 1998, during his stay in Britain, using the copies of his drawing produced between 1991 and 1998. This animation, he presented at the 1st Liverpool Biennale in 1999. The first half of the animation, showing Chibafs daily progress over a five-year period, is reduced to 5 minutes. Drawings gradually appear on the right of the screen, while on the left, in the last half, the drawings disappear in reverse so that the scroll gets shorter and eventually fades away. In 2011 he started to reedit the animation digitally.
An analogy can be made between Chibafs Scroll and Renga, a poetic practice he has engaged with over the last five years. Renga is a genre of Japanese collaborative, linked poetry. In a group, members exchange verses, in turn, as part of a long poem. One set of Renga usually consists of 36 or 72 short verses. In Chibafs group, it takes a year to finish a set of 72 verses because they are only exchanged by post. But as a result, a long poem, which no one could expect appears. The poem is the result of each memberfs work but at the same time, something anonymous emerges from behind the poetry, something suggesting the potential of anonymity, beyond individuals, time, space and linguistic definition.