Seeing from a Distance
Online artist residency in Matsudo, Japan
Exhibition at QWERTY Gallery, Matsudo, 2020
This year, due to the pandemic, we are living with a new discipline, ‘Distance’. Everyone who lives today would have the same realization: Somehow, we suddenly live, work, and communicate differently than before. ‘Distance’ is applied in every field of our lives. The eagerness to be close to each other, the nature of human beings, became a risky impulsion. With distance, societies around the world start to have a new perspective on common discussions, reflecting on the definition of freedom, intimacy, and connection.
This goes for our residency as well. At the beginning of 2020, Willie and I started a collaboration with PARADISE AIR in Matsudo. The plan was to have an artist residency located in Matsudo but the situation quickly changed and forced us to keep a distance in between us. A distance of 9,343 kilometers to be exact. Such a huge space could only be filled with imagination.
During the discussion, we have been constantly imagining the place that we are not allowed to visit: What does the city look like? How does it feel to walk on the street? How are people thinking there? How do they feel about their lives All these questions gradually lead to a simple and direct urge: We want to document Matsudo and the people in Matsudo from a distance in this period of time.
The residency was held online, as an experiment, and consisted of three workshops. Each workshop took place on a Sunday in October 2020. In the theme of ‘Playing Together’, we first introduced ourselves through others’ prejudices, understanding how people perceive us. Afterward, we brought the idea further. We asked participants to capture faces on the street and in their living spaces. Additionally, we asked them to have an interpretation next to each face about how these faces feel.
All the faces can be seen as tiny creations which are essentially reflections of the creator. By knowing how the creators feel, we could picture the bigger scene of Matsudo and how people feel and how they are being influenced by it.
We used the ‘Emotion Analysis Table’ after the participants collected all the faces. With this table, we interpreted and analyzed the creations of participants. The reflection of the chart from each participant was recorded during the final online workshop. These reflections are the final puzzles in our creation, a documentary about Matsudo and the people in it.
The project was presented in an interview at Design Talks Plus, NHK WORD-JAPAN and during the symposium AIR on air by Villa Kujoyama, Goethe-Institut Villa Kamogawa, Kyoto Art Center and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
This residency was hosted by: Paradise AIR
Collaboration with: Willie Wong
Sponsor: The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Japan
Photos of the exhibition
Photos taken by: Ayami Kawashima / 撮影 川島彩水