Pond

Video Installation | 10 mins | June 2019

You get on the fast train, to a local train, to another local train, to a ferry, to arrive at the remote fishing island where you drop off your bags at your guest house, to a bus, to the lineup, to the little entrance where you take off your shoes. The guards loom over you as you approach the puddles that form on the hydrophobic cement at the Teshima Art Museum. It’s forbidden to touch the water, which makes touching the water twice as tempting.

Through the large holes in the ceiling, dead leaves, insects and other debris floated in. Three red strings hang from the ceiling that sway with the breeze. Water seeps out from quarter-inch holes. The underlying concept is the observation of the elements and nature. Throughout Japan, the integration of nature, art and ritual is a recurrent theme that comes from Zen  tradition. The walls surrounding Zen gardens are treated so that the rain creates texture over the years and the groomed stones or sand imitate water for the monks to meditate upon without the hassle of maintaining an actual pond. These themes live on in places like the world’s first digital art museum and you get used to taking off your shoes everywhere, unless your footwear involves a lot of lacing.

In Pond, my resulting project for my field class to Japan, I looped a short clip of swimming koi fish kept at a temple that goes from naturalism to various digital manipulations of glitch, layers and time warps. This loop is then distorted by a layer of thin water the viewer is encouraged to touch that covers a mirror which projects the image to the ceiling. Thus both the image and the viewer get to be in direct contact with the element of water. Lying down on bean bags encourages a state of relaxation for the viewer, though it’s not as effective as taking a trip to a remote fishing island which seems to host as many stray cats as human full-time residents. It’s tempting to expand the installation into a mirror based river surrounded by a miniature landscape of rock, moss and dirt increasing the collapse between the organic and digital. I also think this would have been better in socks, but I think most art experiences would be better in socks.

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