California-based artists Bruce and Norman Yonemoto, brothers who produced a body of collaborative videos beginning in 1976, deconstruct and rewrite the hyperbolic vernacular with which the mass media constructs cultural mythologies. Ironically employing the image-language and narrative syntax of popular forms such as soap opera, Hollywood melodrama and television advertising, the Yonemotos work from "the inside out" to expose the media's pervasive manipulation of contemporary reality and fantasy, individual and collective identity.
In their highly stylized, deadpan fictions, they decode the tropes of cinematic and television formulas, self-consciously appropriating the artifice and cliches of this "media delirium" as metaphor. In their ironic psychosexual melodramas, including Vault (1984) and Kappa (1986), they decipher the Freudian symbology, psychoanalytic strategies and Surrealist tactics that underlie media representations and narrative texts. The Hollywood myth of romantic love, and its role in the construction of personal desire and cultural memory, recurs throughout their work.
The Yonemotos' critique of America's mediated culture is informed by their Japanese-American heritage, their youth in Silicon Valley and their relationship to the Hollywood entertainment industry. They write, "Only by understanding the contents and strategies of metatextual nonsense can we hope to put our postmodern spectacle into a new and constructive context."
The Yonemotos have also produced collaborative multi-media installations, many of which address issues of Japanese-American identity in the context of popular media representation, history, and autobiography. In these installations, as in their narrative fictions, the Yonemotos locate meaning in the interstices between myth and memory. In recent years they have also produced videos and installations independently.
Bruce Yonemoto was born in 1949. He studied at the University of California at Berkeley and Sokei Art Institute in Tokyo, and received an M.F.A. from Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. He has taught video and photography at universities in California and Japan, and has been a contributing writer for publications such as SEND and Artweek magazines. He is currently a Professor and Chair, Studio Art, at University of California, Irvine.
Norman Yonemoto was born in 1946. He studied film at Santa Clara University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the American Film Institute. He has been a contributing writer for Artweek magazine, and is the author of the commercial films Chatterbox (1976) and Savage Streets (1983).
Bruce and Norman Yonemoto co-founded KYO-DAI Productions in 1976. In 1999 a mid-career retrospective of their collaborative work was held at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Their work has been exhibited extensively around the world, including at the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles; in California Video at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; the Long Beach Museum of Art, California; 11th Paris Biennale; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Image Forum, Tokyo; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; American Film Institute National Video Festival, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Among their awards are a Media Arts Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation, a production grant and a Visual Arts Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Phelan Award for Video Art/Docu-Drama, and grants from the Rocky Mountain Institute of Film and Video and Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (German Television).
Bruce and Norman Yonemoto both live in Los Angeles. [Source: Electronic Arts Intermix]