air for everyone | 2012
In Echigo Tsumari, one feels the thickness of melted snow running, filling heavily laden channels, snaking down the mountain, carrying in its flow the urgency of growth and the brevity of summer, a harbinger of preparations for the long and fiercely cold winter on the other side. Alongside the industriousness of the cities, the fecund landscape hums with movement and sound. How heavily the silence of a vacant house or building weighs in the smaller communities, where it carves a zone untouched by cultivation or care.
Hearing is how we touch at a distance. Sound travels, we feel something from the outside enter the interior and everything is changed. Words spoken, music played, the sound of a city or a forest; sound is motion, is change, is life. When a small flap covering the opening of a reed instrument or a vocal chord opens and closes, a sound is created. The sound of breath or a rustling motion in a surrounding stillness signals something is alive. While the pressure of touch is something you can feel and an instrument is something you can point to and name, sound draws our attention, it is everywhere and nowhere at once.
The work of this work is the cultivation of this attention; it is a form of listening.
The Dragon kiln, once alive with fire, is now possessed by the hollow of its interior. Its volume is not an emptiness but is the fullness of possibility. It is a succession of chambers that ascends and descends the mountain. Like the earth, it waits. It is dark; the plants that grow inside have no color. Damaged by the earthquake and now unsafe for occupation, the kiln is plugged with reed-inlaid firewood. The smoke holes and arched doorways are closed to light but open to breath. Air sounds the top of the mountain when the parachutes fall, when the small metal bells they carry sound, when the community gathers and together breathes their singular volumes into its collective cavity.
Together this is a cloud of sound.
The metalworker's house, previously closed and unoccupied, is newly opened to air and light. The wind's shadow presence sounds chimes hidden behind paper walls where paper bird wings flap flap in mechanized tethered place. The metal workers repurposed wooden tool handles connect by rope and pulley along the house's center beam to wall mounted accordions; when pulled, the bellows drone the cacophony of a single note on the inhale and a reciprocal note in the exhale. And to the side on the first floor, a foot-operated tuning table sounds open reeds in the hands of visitors, and above, in the work room, the ornithopter - in parts - hovers in a spastic mechanically driven motion above the found gift of the metalworker: the air in metal silhouette.
Air passes in and out - the Dragon Kiln at the top of the mountain and the metalworker's house at the foot of the mountain. Sing.
cut metal silhouette found during the renovation of the house
For more information about the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, please click here.
Photo credit: Art Front Gallery / Miyuki Inoue / Ann Hamilton Studio
Toshio Kondo, Art Front Gallery