Project Japan 29

So we’re still on Thursday 23 August. Hot and humid with heavy showers. We meet Matthew Fasone at Kawaramachi Hankyu subway station and, after a short wander, head over to Art Spot Korin and a meeting with artist and very, very, nice guy Masahiro Kawanaka. As with so many people we have met on this trip, Masa was incredibly generous with his time and the four of us had a great afternoon together, eventually having quite a deep and subtle discussion on art practice. Hugely enjoyable.

[A special shout out to Matthew here, not just for sharing several days with us and showing us the ropes both in Osaka and Kyoto, but for his excellent Japanese which allowed us to bridge the gap with Masa much more effectively. Thanks Matt!]

Late afternoon we left Art Spot Korin and Matthew showed us around Gion, which an the area in Kyoto where they have tried to retain its traditional look (there being no airborne power-cables, for example). A bit of a tourist-trap, but I’m glad I’ve seen it… Here’s my photos from the day:

That evening I worked until very late: I had to get my two tracks ready for the next day’s performance and had to ensure that the video cueing worked seamlessly for all four tracks in our set, hence the projector now hooked up to my little Noku Hotel studio. This would be my first attempt at using QLab in a real-world situation and ensuring it all sync’d up perfectly was a huge concern. In particular, the piece Carl and I were doing together—effectively the ‘main attraction’ of the evening’s show—was 15 minutes long and I wanted to make sure it was absolutely in sync and rock-solid right the way through. In practice it was pretty straightforward and QLab worked perfectly:

Finally to bed around 3am. Sheesh!

Project Japan 27

Downtime in Tokyo: knocking these posts out now to wrap this up before we get home and it all goes stale.

Monday 20 August

Heather and I leave Sugoshicho behind and head for Kyoto. The afternoon is spent finishing off the install at Gallery G-77 and, as at Tenjinyama, the most labour-intensive element is putting up Hev’s Pocket Remains 1-79. It takes about three hours of repetitive and painstaking work—not helped by a time-consuming false start—but it looks good when it’s done.

As does the show as a whole. The gallery is quite small but has two floors. Matthew and Hev rightly dominate downstairs but everyone is represented on both floors. Downstairs, panning from just inside the front door on the left all the way round to the right (behind the partition):

And with this on a low table in the middle of the space:

Upstairs, panning this time from the right-hand wall round to the left:

Hard work. Well done Heather and Matthew for doing such a well-considered and professional job. Well done Sueko for the logistics: ordering projectors, printing, and the PA, English-Japanese translations, and for doing all the driving!

Project Japan 24

Continuing directly on from my last post. The scene: Carl and Sueko Boland’s house in Sugoshicho, Japan.

Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 August
As part of the Resonant Interval show at Gallery G-77 in Kyoto—on Friday 24 August to be exact—Carl and I are scheduled to do a performance, the centrepiece of which is supposed to be a brand new 15-minute audio-visual collaborative piece. My main job whilst I’ve been in Japan has been to make the film. It’s more-or-less done by this time, but the music remains in an entirely skeletal state: over this weekend Carl and myself are supposed to be developing it and rehearsing for the show.

So basically we spend two days in his studio whilst the sun shines down and rural Japan dreamily meanders along outside. Carl does most of the audio processing, I do most of the structural work. Two long, hard, but ultimately pretty successful days. By Sunday night the track is mostly there, but the first section remains in its original skeletal state and we haven’t practised together at all. We’ve run out of time.

Meanwhile on Sunday—whilst Carl and myself stay in Sugoshicho—Heather, Matthew, and Sueko meet at the gallery and  begin putting up the show.

***

The only break we have is a few hours on Saturday evening. There is a Buddhist festival in the village—a bit like our Harvest Festival (with donations to the temple of food)—but celebrated at the start of the harvest rather than the end. Heather and I are generously invited by the villagers to take part. As with the visit to the temple the evening before I found the simplicity and emotional authenticity of the experience humbling and deeply affecting:

After sausages-on-sticks, shaved ice sundaes, and plenty of alcohol—mainly for the men hanging out on the temple steps—the dancing began. This was a kind of circular line dance with a specific set of moves that symbolise the sowing and reaping of the rice harvest. The heavily rhythmic and hypnotic folk music goes on and on, with endless verses by alternating male and female vocalists about, um, farming (according to Sueko who’s a local and knows these things). Needless to say Hev and myself were dragged into the action:

The whole thing was utterly delightful. As you can see it’s a very small and tight community. Everyone was extremely warm, welcoming, and friendly. The kids are joyous and just run free in what is clearly a very safe and loving communal embrace.

I’m at a loss for words to describe how profoundly moving this evening was, and how privileged we felt to be immediately and unquestioningly accepted into these people’s lives. An amazing and totally unexpected experience.

Project Japan 16

The last couple of days in Sapporo were actually pretty hectic. Then – BANG – we’ve packed up and left and I’m writing this from a hotel room in Osaka. A bit like someone suddenly changing channels on the TV when you’re half way through a good film… So just a very quick review for completeness: I already feel like I’m in another world.

Sunday morning I spent video editing and then gave a presentation 1pm – 2pm on my films. The reaction to them has been incredibly positive and I had been asked lots of questions about my working methods. It was also an opportunity for us to give something back to the Tenjinyama residents and staff, and so proved to be a satisfying social event. Heather went out and bought cakes and soft drinks so a jolly time was had by one and all: nice to see some kids there too.

Sunday afternoon we had been invited to dinner by textile artist Yumiko Inagaki. She showed us her work space and some of her beautiful and lovingly produced pieces: she dyes her own thread, designs the patterns, and weaves using all sorts of materials including metal. These pictures simply do not do her work justice: there is a profound simplicity and honesty expressed in every nuance of colour, texture, and form:

Monday Yumiko travelled to Tenjinyama to see our exhibition before it was taken down. She arrived at 9:30am and by 10:30 sadly was gone, at which point our other friend Rinako Otsuka arrived with her parents. They had the full tour and were great company.

Rinako, Heather, and I then headed into town for lunch and an appointment with Yuki Yamamoto at Naebono Art Studio. This is an art collective based in an old canning factory near the railroad tracks in central Sapporo. There are six artists based in the complex and they have their own gallery, this currently hosting an exhibition of Mexican artists entitled Mexicaido: the link to Japan and Sapporo being none other than our new friend and LA resident Kio Griffith:

Yuki generously gave over most of his afternoon to us and proved a highly genial and amusing host as well as a hugely talented artist (with pretty decent English). He has an exhibition in Hamburg coming up and was hard at work on a series of abstract works that he imbues with an almost 3-dimensional surface through the clever use of translucent acrylics and an industrial sander:

This is an incredibly abbreviated account of our last two days in Sapporo, but it’ll have to do. By the time we’d finished our tour at Naebono with Yuki, the weather had broken and it was absolutely hammering down. It had been hot and humid the whole time we’d been in Sapporo and the sudden change seemed to foreshadow our equally sudden departure…

Last night—it already seems a lifetime ago—we packed and said our farewells. A last few goodbyes early this morning and we were on the road by 7:30am.


What a great time we’ve had! The people we’ve met in Sapporo have without a single exception been delightful, and we are especially grateful to Yumiko and Rinako for their generosity, kindness, and thoughfulness. The staff and residents at Tenjinyama Art Studio have been just great: a massive “thank you” to one and all.

I suspect I’ll still be processing all this for many months to come.

Project Japan 12

Following on from my last post, here’s the video:

The Crystal World

This video was part of my submission for 1SSUE 39:

Exploded View 1

This video was part of my submission to 1SSUE 38.

Looking

This video was part of my submission to 1SSUE 37.

Swansea Open/Glynn Vivian

Today I managed to squeeze in a visit to this year’s Swansea Open Exhibition at the Glynn Vivian gallery, just before it closed. Absolutely delighted to have a film included.

McLuhan 7: The Golden Probe Show