Link to video shall be posted in the future

Description | 記述

Duration: 2 minutes, 1 second

Medium: Animated graphite and ink drawings

Status: A work in progress

Copyright 2009 CE 



~transience~ | ~流動性~

Transience is a visual haiku, a response to the vivid quality of my  first experiences in Tokyo. 

The beauty of everyday life stands out with intensity when one is transported out of the familiar. Being so far from the place of one’s birth causes a higher degree of awareness and appreciation of surroundings and activities that might otherwise remain unnoticed, cast into the realm of the mundane. Japanese concepts of the “floating world,” the dream-like transitory, ephemeral space that is seemingly removed from daily reality, influenced my choice to work with reflections and light, and use ink and graphite to depict the duality of the mundane and evanescent. I placed myself as the central character to portray my role in that relationship. 

Explanation of Signs and Signifiers

The glimmer of light rotating around my sunglasses is a subtle hint to the cyclical and transitory nature of existence and alludes to the regularity of the action of taking the train, (the Yamanote Line) which itself travels in a circle through Tokyo. The almost code-like pattern of city lights reflected in the glasses and windows also alludes to this cycle and to the masses of people likewise sharing in this routine. For the children on the train platform, the sight of me standing beyond the door of a train is a singular experience breaking their cycle of the day-to-day world for a brief moment. It is as though I am a part of the “floating world,” something totally removed from their daily existence. We shall never encounter each other in such a manner again, even though I did and likely shall again encounter children with similar reactions, just as those children shall certainly see other “strange” looking foreigners. The slight jerkiness of the animation evokes the movement of the train and its familiar, comforting rhythm of rocking on the tracks as it travels. It, and the roughly rendered nature of the drawings, does not attempt to hide the animation technique. This again alludes to notions of “the floating world,” as the animation is at once perceivable as movement and the illusion of movement.

There is also the conscious choice to render this personification of myself, and anything that was a reflection, in pencil and everything else in ink. Metaphorically, the ink emphasizes the vibrancy of the culture of Japan to me and there is a great tradition of ink use in both calligraphy and painting. One might say in simile that the use of these two distinct mediums represents an intersection or bridging of two distinct worlds or cultures. By rendering myself with the same medium as the reflections, the nature of my existence in Japan is also likened to the ephemeral quality of those reflections and light. The ink is something that cannot be erased and easily dominates the balance of the images and is hence what my presence cannot directly shape. The graphite in which I am rendered is easily erased or smeared, much like the children, or anyone else’s memory of my presence. It also symbolizes the impermanence of my stay and emphasizes that I am actually the one who is part of the “floating world” and thereby suggests that the natives of Tokyo are the ones whom are more connected to tangible reality.

The crow’s fleeting presence is reminiscent of my own. And, just as the crow disappears, my character too quickly vanishes in the end, as I am drawn back to the other side of the world. While I continue to ponder the incident, I shall never know what those children really thought of me. Perhaps they thought I was peculiar because I was foreign to them, of perhaps it was merely tat I was wearing a long coat in late spring. In any case, I cannot say and I only have my impression of their reaction.

In the not-too-distant future, I wish to return to Japan and continue to make art in this vein. This piece is the first of what I would like to become an ongoing series.

Music by Boris. All images and writing are mine.


copyright 2009 CE

>>> Update:

I have returned to Tokyo and now it is my home. I am very busy now, but I do intend to go forward with my plans for more work in this vein and to add on to this piece.

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