A text included in the catalog of “The Place for Socks,” an exhibition by Kain Picken at CONICAL in Melbourne. Kain is an Australian artist and co-founder of ffiXXed. The text looks at our increased movement between spaces, where “the endpoint of that movement is a human-space singularity as the spaces themselves remain the same, but our image of them converges.” Read more
Something about discharge and measuring time; that we can only measure time as things become more complex and break down. Something about Stephen Hawking and a good documentary about him by Errol Morris (HERE); the arrow of time. Something about time-perception and destruction; that if we only know time through the degradation of order into disorder perhaps we can change our sense of time by altering our proximity to large scale destruction. Some quote from Hawking from a New Scientist article in 1987, “we measure time in the the direction in which disorder increases.” Something about disasters and the slowing of time; your life flashing before your eyes. Finally, no thing can be known without something being destroyed.
Photo of the sun discharging light through clouds (top) and small crabs discharging sand from holes (bottom).
Shizutani School. One of the first public schools in the world. Imagined by Lord Mitsumasa in 1666, it was finally completed by his successor, Lord Tsunamasa. Two Chinese Pistachio trees are planted in the school grounds. The seeds were brought from China specifically because Confucious regarded them as “academic trees.” When we visited Shizutani School two weeks ago the trees were still bare. In Autumn the leaves will become red and yellow and many people come to see those colours. There was no mention on any of the tourist brochures about the emerald colour of the water in the nearby moat but I felt its colour could easily rival that of the trees. When we visited the water must have had a special kind of algae blooming, or the sun must have been shining on a specific angle, because the moat glowed with a preternatural rich green hue. I wanted to drink from it.
In the 1990′s Russia began giving five gram tablets of an algae called spirulina to children affected by the radiation from Chernobyl. After taking an optimum dosage for an optimum length of time the level of radiation in their bodies was roughly 50% lower. A Chinese research team first studied the power of spirulina on radiation in 1989. They found that a radioactive mouse which is given spirulina will become less radioactive (HERE).
For a while everything in Japan slowed down. The sensation of time passing over the last three weeks felt much longer, more like three months. It seems the earthquake was so large it affected our sense of time. But now everything is gaining speed, becoming normal, we are getting busy again, time is shortening and harder to find. I read an article today that claimed Japan will bounce back from this disaster with renewed vigour, “even stronger than before.” An even more productive and prosperous Japan! Finally a viable way out of the ’90s/’00s axis of economic ennui! Perhaps. Reconstruction is essential, but there are consequences from extending that reconstruction into renewed prosperity. The time-poor workers of Tokyo will be the first to suffer. Their time was already unnaturally scarce before the quake. In the future it may disappear completely. We will not know exact days or hours anymore, only fuzzy states: sleeping, working, eating, talking. As spare time for reflecting on the future vanishes Tokyo will be inhabited solely by workers with a “present perspective of time.” Psycho-Pharmeceudical companies will make a lot of money from “sense of time” medication which will be used to help rebuild the atrophy of timekeeping functions in the basal ganglia and the right parietal cortex. Photo of the Toei Shinjuku Line train gaining speed as it leaves Akebonobashi station bound for East Tokyo (which is where our new house is).
I’ve never thought much about helicopters, now they seem very important. In Japan there are three helicopter manufacturers: Fuji Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Only the heaviest of industries can manufacture rotorcraft. There are few clients; helicopters are supplied to the Self Defence Force (SDF) or the coast guard. The news services seem to get their helicopters from overseas (the “Eurocopter”).
On the day of the earthquake we sat in a small park near our house. It is opposite the National Defence Headquarters and helicopters were constantly arriving and leaving. I went to get some food for us to eat. After leaving through the automatic doors of the convenience store I heard a chopping sound and stood outside with some other small children. There were five of us. We watched a big Chinook CH-47JA take off from the defence headquarters. It went north. I don’t know what it saw up there.
Boeing Chinook CH-47JA Built by Kawasaki Aerospace Company. Photo by Bruce Martin. Four of these helicopters were used to drop water over the stricken nuclear reactors in Fukushima.
UH-60J search and rescue (SAR) helicopters produced under license from Sikorsky by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. These will become more prevalent over the next 20 years.
Mitsubishi MH 2000 (discontinued in 2004). The first helicopter designed and manufactured in Japan, an “indigenous helicopter.”
Mitsubishi HSS-2B. There were 23 of these helicopters built. This is my favourite helicopter because the angles feel slightly wrong.
Mitsubishi H-60 is a series of Helicopters based on the Sikorsky S-70 helicopter family. This is the 60K the newest version.
Fuji-Bell 204B-2: Military utility transport helicopter. Photo taken from THIS BLOG HERE. That blog has the best collection of Japanese helicopter photos i’ve seen.
Photo by Menno Teunisse. The MH-53E. Eleven MH-53E’s replaces nine KV-107′s which were originally built from kits sent by Boeing. A long-range version KV-107IIA-17 (CT58-140-1) was built for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, only one was built. But SDF KV-107s are now out of service.
AW139 Medium Twin Helicopter (Eurocopter) distributed by Mitsui Bussan Aerospace and bought by All Nippon Helicopter (ANH) who are contracted exclusively to Nippon Housou Kyokai (NHK) and conducts news gathering missions for them. I guess a lot of the aerial footage we have been seeing on television recently was shot from one of the two AW139 owned by ANH. I feel sorry for the men flying those helicopters.
3:19pm. We’ve just finished our reportage in Bizen. I have waved goodbye to Lucas and Kaori – editors of Papersky Magazine (HERE) – and I’m riding a local train to Osaka where I’ll meet Hannah and catch the night bus back home to Tokyo. Of all the Japanese traditions we have covered in Papersky (public baths, mountain monks, handmade paper, and fishing) Bizen style pottery is the most political. As a folk tradition it seems caught in a struggle between elitism and authenticity. Although it was originally intended for everyday use, the cost of materials and the prestige associated with it from it’s explosion in the eighties has made most items too expensive to be used by regular people for things like drinking coffee or eating rice. Only the rich or those who deeply value pottery will invest. Over time many things come to be mediated by that which they are not, and so, simple everyday Bizen-yaki became a thing for the elite, and so, it is now returning to a more simple place again (and so on and so on). “Modern art is popular, which makes me want to make even more traditional work.” That is Eisuke Morimoto’s philosophy; he is a craftsman working outside the official associations and clubs which control Bizen-yaki culture. Taking the idea of Bizen-yaki even further away from the elite is a workshop called Hidasugi. The potters here are all mentally handicapped; they make pottery using molds of dragons, fish, frogs and kitchen goods. Occasionally some of them make original work using the Bizen clay. The photo above is of a dragon made by a handicapped man who looked to be in his thirties.
12:29pm. “During the bubble era in the eighties people made a fortune from Bizen-yaki. Business men quit their jobs and came down here to begin a life as a potter, it was a goldrush. Things are not so great now.” Morimoto-san has been explaining the recent history of Bizen pottery to us this morning. Most of the good clay got used up by fair-weather artisans and what was left was taken up by the main families in Bizen. It seems that during the bubble many of the larger families here began searching out high quality clay and hoarding it. The families who are headed by living national treasures (an honor conferred to notable Japanese craftsmen) have hoarded enough clay to last three generations; a means of securing a future for their family. Good Bizen-yaki requires excruciatingly rare clay but these days most of it is hidden under apartment blocks and train tracks; construction workers try to sniff it out to make extra money on the side. The -yaki master we talked to (who is not part of a main family) got lucky in 1989 and secured over 100 tonnes of prime clay. It fills two garages. He parks his car outside now. At the same time, in Tokyo, peoples living rooms and cupboards and filled with dozens of bottles of spring water as there is a threat of tap water being contaminated by radiation. Perhaps one day clean drinking water will become as rare as Bizen-yaki clay, with wealthy families fighting over ownership. Once in a super moon some lucky fellow might discover a hidden cache of the stuff and he’ll store it all in his double garage.
Bizen-yaki is one style of pottery in Japan. A cup I saw was unglazed, but it reflected light in unexpected places; from the bottom, a portion of its lip, the back. One side was a light red colour, the back was burnt into shades of maroon, charcoal and bronze. It was partially crushed and its surface uneven. There are over a dozen distinct ceramic styles in Japan but none are more reknowned or more deliberately accidental than the Bizen ceramic style. Dried clay vessels are placed inside a kiln (called a Kama), and then they are burnt at around 1200 degrees Celcius for 10-12 days. Two things decide how they will look after firing: where they are placed inside the kama (towards the back = blacker, towards the front = more colorful, covered in straw = striped) and where the flames decide to burn. We are in the car now, going to talk again with Bizen master Eizawa-San. The photos above are photos I took last night of photos from his collection. His photo collection consists of two Hello Kitty folders filled with about 40 images.