-The maglev experimental center in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture recently held a test ride for reporters on the Linear Chuo Shinkansen. The reporter, too, experienced the speed of up to 500 kilometers per hour and the comfort of the ride. The test run was conducted on the 42.8 kilometers of track between the cities Uenohara and Fuefuki. The reporter sat on an aisle seat among rows of two seats on each side of the aisle. Ten seconds after departure, an announcement was heard that the train would now be "switching to maglev traveling". Shortly thereafter, it seemed that the vehicle was rising slightly, but almost no swaying was detected. One minute 38 seconds after departure, as the train reached the speed of 300 kilometers per hour, some stimulation could be sensed by the ears. At two minutes 53 seconds, the train reached the speed of 500 kilometers per hour. The water in a cup was vibrating gently. There was a sense of the body being pushed into the seat, but the sound of the travel was barely noticeable. It was an experience that seemed "surprisingly normal".
- This news about subtle movement reminds me of Shikinen Sengu. Every 20 years, the Ise Grand Shrine is relocated to a space of almost the exact same dimensions next to its main sanctuary. Everything is recreated with the craft of the thousand- year-old shinmei-zukuri style, be it the inner shrine, outer shrine, any shrine halls, shrine gates, bridges, sacred treasures offered to the deities, or ornaments. The shrine would spend eight years conducting all the rituals involved. Each step of the process, including logging cypress trees and acquiring timber, has its own ceremony.
- On the night of the Sengu, in the pitch-black darkness, hundreds of priests would carry torches as they invited the symbol of the deity out of the main palace. They would use white silk to form moving walls, so the symbol of the deity could travel slowly behind the silk. It is curious that the tradition is termed a "relocation" although the shrine is no longer the original Ise Grand Shrine. There is no explanation as to the whereabouts of the decayed wood or old sacred treasures. Nor is there any announcement that the Goddess Amaterasu of yesterday is no longer, because the new goddess of today has been born."
- And then there is the Shimabara Rebellion, the largest-scale uprising in Japanese history, launched by the Christian peasants of the Amakusa Islands. The main cause of the uprising was a revolt against the economic exploitation and religious repression that people were subjected to under the Tokugawa military government. The Amakusa Islands were one of the first areas in Japan to be introduced to Christianity. The religion had almost a million followers there. Yet the power difference was too overwhelming between the two forces. The number of Christian followers was decimated, going down from a million to thousands, hundreds, until all followers eventually went underground, becoming secret believers. Disguised as Buddhists, the believers built attics that saw no daylight in their houses and worshipped in the dead of the night. Because of the similarity between the Virgin Mary and Guanyin (the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy), Christian crosses or Virgin Mary figurines were often hidden on the back of Guanyin statuettes. It was as if the Virgin Mary moved to the back of Guanyin.
- I proposed a question in my previous work, The Library Tapes. Does our collective consciousness resemble a collective brain? It has its own shape, weight, and can float or move about in the sky. Could we substitute parts of it indefinitely, like with a grand shrine, in which every element could be new? If its elements are
replaceable like those in grand shrines, is it comparable to the ship of Theseus in the philosophical question? Is it still the same collective consciousness? Is the deity still the original divinity? Would the collective brain be willing to move, as the deities did, to a place that is almost exactly the same? If it moved to a nearly identical place, would that still be moving?
-I discovered the works of artist Xavi Bou while researching murmuration. He presents the flight of birds with incredibly mathematical lines, as though capturing the intention of the birds.
-Xavi Bou told me he was studying the massive wave-like lines that birds would leave in the winter skies when escaping the pursuit of eagles. He said if I looked closely, I would see that there was an eagle in every photo. He said the lines were like instant sculptures that eagles carved into the sky.
- When birds form murmurations, every bird can in fact receive signals from only seven neighboring birds. The information they take in includes a large amount of noise and disturbances, and birds need to constantly adjust their course. Animals are often required to form communal decisions. In animal communities, information about migration routes or food sources is often commanded by only a few individuals. Individuals may prefer different options, but collective decision- making ensures that the flock does not break apart. In their 2003 report, University of Sussex Professors Conradt and Roper proposed that for non-humans, democratic mechanisms are more beneficial than despotic ones. This is not because the opinions of every swan or cricket are respected or heard, but rather that democratic mechanisms tend to produce less extreme situations. Animals, too, exhibit voting behavior: Red deer express their wish by standing up. African elephants indicate their stance by giving low-frequency grumbles; the group adopts the majority decision of adult females. Swans communicate with head movements; once the intensity of signals reaches a certain threshold, the entire flock instantly takes flight in synchrony. African buffalos cast votes using their direction of gaze. Honeybees express their opinion through dancing, and reach the final conclusion by integration of signal strength and frequency.
- Movement is crucial for animals. Movement is not the conclusion, but if we imagine the conclusion to be a massive, unfathomable entity, the means of movement determines the perspective from which we delve into the endgame.
- During my residency in Mexico, my research was focused on femicides. We arranged for two strangers with feminine characteristics to meet at different rooms in two different houses. Different events would occur in the rooms. The strangers do not need to be dramatic; the photographer only has to capture their presence on film. Jo, my curator at the time, told me that a family of magicians showed up on weekends at the mouth of an alley near our place. The father would be covered in silver body paint as he juggled ignited props. The child would perform complex whistling and hand signals. I imagined having a room where one would open the door to find the magician family toiling to earn their living. Or the door would open to the gaze of a magician family. We began trying to contact this family. Because Mexico adopts a fairly closed social stratification system, people must be especially careful when interacting with members of a different social class and remain highly courteous. We asked our executive producer Beth, who was Mexican herself, to communicate with the magician family. They set up dates to meet with us several times. Every time, we would prepare snacks for the child and tea, pretending to wait in a relaxed manner. But not once did they come. At long last, the mother sent word through the father: she thought it extremely dangerous to allow the child into our house. There was a girl who used to perform at the street corner. That was how she got into someone's car and never returned. At
that moment, I realized that for street performers, our houses could be places at which they vanish.
- Video: Buenos dias mujeres (8 minutes)
- Ciudad Juárez is the major site of femicides in Mexico. After the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1991, Ciudad Juárez became a center for maquiladoras. With the imbalance of political power, economic strength and business profits between the U.S. and Mexico, Ciudad Juárez became an offshore second-class city where America obtained petroleum, natural gas, solar power, wind energy, and also set up military bases. Ciudad Juárez became the symbol of the Mexican government's inability, its indulgence for impunity causing violence to become normalized and institutionalized. Due to the failure of the justice system, mass media, gang influence, and governmental institutions, femicides were systematically ignored. Factories of ready-made clothing often hired young female employees. These young women obtained financial independence and freedom for the first time in such a city, while men in the city faced large-scale unemployment. The economic statuses of men and women were highly unbalanced, and women became targets for revenge. Clothing factories in Mexico often set up one building next to one cotton field, next to another building, next to another cotton field. The endless stretch of roads next to a cotton field seemed like a passageway where prayers are needed. You could practically see the rise and descent of various political forces here. At that moment of descent, the women disappear.
- Video: Murmuration (13 minutes)
- Movement on documents is the most concise kind. Nine months before they massacred the Jewish people, the Nazis in fact conducted euthanasia experiments on children with intellectual disability. The victims totaled to 60 thousand people. This murder project of the Nazi diagnostic regime includes: Filming pre-euthanasia images for documentation, disposing of the bodies, forging causes of death, issuing death certificates, and sending condolence letters to family. Doctors needed to select one from a list of 61 causes of death, and fabricate the pre-death symptoms and treatment. Byung-Chul Han wrote in Topology of Violence, "There are things that don't disappear. Violence is one of them. Modernity is not distinguished by an aversion to violence. Violence is simply protean. It varies its outward form according to the social constellation at hand."
- Flocks under attack would contract as a whole, expand, or even split up, incessantly altering its density and structure. And yet, no bird would remain isolated. Before long, the flock would undergo a drastic change. No matter how history replaces its elements, the path ahead remains unfathomable. Once we start contemplating the future, thousands and millions of years suddenly fly by in the blink of an eye. Deities move to the backs of one another. And birds, in the moment of being chased, draw enigmatic lines in the sky.