In Search of A/The Point of Life


As it did when 9/11 ‘happened’, we were confused, unable to grasp the gravity of the news of the tsunami. As Virilio, Baudrillard and others have already analysed, the endless stream of video footage that were downloaded onto the screens that litter our Life 1.0 (TV, computer, smartphones et al) seem to literally and metaphorically bring home images that we have previously seen in the most ostentatious video games and Hollywood blockbusters (so much so that a journalist from a free tabloid has coined the term ‘earthquake porn‘ to describe our consumption of such imagery – but this term is as gratuitous and unnecessary and insensitive as pornography itself). Because, or in spite of the fact that we are inundated with such imagery, that there was/is no way we could fathom the reality of the disaster as it struck, as it unfolded, as it was unfolding, and as its repercussions continue to unravel, amidst the media filters (which includes smokescreens, distortions, lies, embellishments).

The metaphorical and literal collision between the fictitious and the actual is all the more stark as we recall how the notion of ‘The Big One’ was etched into the consciousness of any resident of Japan ever since such an event had been predicted: other than regular emergency drills, every one is taught what to do and where to go, etc, when a major earthquake strikes. Yet, no matter how prepared one is, no matter how often one experiences quakes on a daily basis, no matter how much the notion of the possibility of such a disaster is ingrained in one’s day-to-day consciousness, one is never sufficiently prepared emotionally. That we had, in a previous life, visited and stayed in Fukushima with a mentor, composer/laptop artist Professor Christophe Charles (with whom we have had the honour to collaborate with many many times) to stage a ‘live’ performance, and recorded videos of the very nuclear plants as we walked around the city also makes the news of the tsunami all the more difficult to grasp and comprehend. As the news unfolded, or rather, as we watched the alarming images of the destruction played and replayed before our eyes, we burst into tears, but what do we know? What can we really know? What can we possibly understand, as mere consumers of the media images and texts, and as a worried friend reading detailed and heartwarming email replies from our friends on the ground – albeit from a safe distance?

When news of the tsunami hit us, we were on the road, and this was one of the photographs that we snapped that day – a clear, crisp sunny day it was. Image-makers that we are (that said, everyone is, if not an artist in Beuy’s formulation, an image-maker today) we have nonetheless been extremely affected by the terrifying images of the tsunami we saw. (Hence) Here is one image we have created, as a response- an image of hope. Our dear friends in Japan, our dearest friends of the film and art communities in Yamagata, Tokyo and Beppu, our professors, tutors, colleagues at the Musashino Art University, all our friends, mentors, colleagues who had supported, encouraged, challenged, taught, critiqued, criticised and loved us, people old and young from all walks of life whom we had the fortune to encounter as we travelled all over the islands via rail in Summer 2004, the fellow swimmers and lifeguards of the swimming pools in Fuchu and Kodaira, and everyone else we have met met in the three years that we lived, worked, swam, and islandhopped throughout the archipelago: please stay bright! Our time in Japan was a powerful episode of our lives, deeply challenging as it was beautiful – beautiful largely due to the wide range of amazing people – including the many artists, filmmakers, composers, dancers – we have met and worked with along the way. Itinerant and independent runners that we are of this and other lives, it is the amazing people we run into along these journeys that make our experiences so meaningful and powerful. Our dearest friends in Japan, we do not stop thinking of you and pray for your safety, resilience and strength. Although we are now in a different place literally and metaphorically, and a different life, as  a different being, we are a sum of all our previous experiences, because of you. We are running our daily runs, thinking of you. ???????????????????????