When i Stand Here I Hear the Earth is Turning
Seven monitors set up in a row in a corridor connecting galleries of Akiyoshidai International Art Village. Each monitor displays videos featuring passages through various locations in Akiyoshi or repetitive sequences of movements and activities performed in the Yamaguchi Region Mines.
The work was developed for The Future of This Land group exhibition, which aims to reflect on the depopulation of the Akiyoshi and Yamaguchi prefectures. These regions are mainly known for their limestone deposits that have supported the stone industry in the area. However, with the depletion of these deposits, questions regarding the political agenda and strategies for the region have been raised by both local officials and residents.
When i Stand Here I Hear the Earth is Turning is grounded in the Japanese concept of 間 – MA, which refers to negative space, an empty or in-between space that coexists with and challenges its surrounding framework. This ideogram, which consists of two characters representing moon and gate, depicts the moment when moonlight shines through an ajar gate. For individuals raised in Japanese culture and aesthetics, 間 embodies two simultaneous components of a sense of place: the objective aspect and the subjective experience. 間 derives from a combination of Japan’s indigenous spiritual tradition Shinto and Buddhism, which originated in mainland Asia. The emphasis on harmony in relationships and the focus on spoken and unspoken connections that unite people stems from Shinto, while the notion of emptiness and selflessness is attributed to Buddhism.
In contrast to Western thought, which is predicated on self-reference, Japanese culture values the concept of MA. Dutch philosopher Henk Oosterling illustrates this point with the example of an empty room: in Western culture, a room is considered empty until someone enters it, at which point a place centered on the person or object is produced. The moment another person enters the room, a relationship or interaction emerges between them, though this is viewed as secondary to identity. By contrast, the Japanese concept of MA regards the in-between space as more important, as it is where life is lived and movement from one place to another is organized. According to architect Arata Isozaki, the in-between space is the key to sensing the moment of movement.
Akiyoshidai International Art Village, Yamaguchi, Japan, 2018
7 monitors with videos and sound
Henk Oosterling, A Culture of the ‘Inter’, Japanese Notions ma and basho