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500 Yen


On the street in front of SCAI THE BATHHOUSE, Tokyo, October 2000

Mixed media

Imagine if you bent to pick up a coin on a street and suddenly a strong light flashed on you with the sound of a shutter release.  You would be surprised and embarrassed at being photographed, even though perhaps a photograph was not actually being taken.  Despite its simple trick, 500 yen leaves the people who experienced it with an intense impression. This project is very popular for people outside of the art world, including children, because it deals with money- a subject that everyone is interested in. The coins are placed in various settings on a street, on a floor or on a table in a gallery that look natural, as if a real coin had been dropped by someone, not looking like a part of the art piece. All the surroundings of the coins are staged and props.  He chooses a strobe light for theater that has more intensity than the ones used for photographs, as well as his using fake shutter sounds hugely amplified from a nearby speaker. The trick is that the coin itself is a switch for the strobe and the shutter sounds.  An auto-winding wire attached to the bottom of the coin means that the coin - picked up and then dropped by the shocked person - would immediately spring back into its original position. Masuyama has titled this project applying the name of the coins that he used for the trick so that the project's title varies depending on the country in which the project takes place.



Photo : Masaya Yoshimura

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