Graded Unit / Evaluation
When I was to choose one of five themes; Home & Displacement, War & Conflict, Nature world, Ritual & Commemoration, Technology & System, I first thought that Home & Displacement would be the ideal one for me as I have left my home country a while ago and I could probably come up with many ideas from my experiences in living in different countries. The reason why I did not choose it was that I recognized that many of my colleagues were choosing Home & Displacement as well, so I decided to go against it and try one which would be more of a challenge for me. After some brainstorming on each theme I decided to go for Ritual & Commemoration.
As my first interpretation of this theme I came up with a unique Japanese ritual ‘Seppuku’ (Samurai used to commit suicide with honor), which led me to do historical research on the era and Japanese culture in general. Although it was a very interesting subject, I could not succeed in pulling ideas together. I suppose now that it was probably because the ritual itself was so interesting to me, that it became hard to make an artwork which could be equally, or more interesting.
Though I left my first interpretation it was quite natural for me to go further to look at Japanese rituals. As I researched a range of Japanese rituals I kept noticing a strong presence of Zen teachings in many of ceremonies and events we have in Japan. Half way through my research I was quite sure that I was going to make a video work. I made a couple of video works in my last project and felt fairly confident in using the media. I also knew that with that experience I could challenge myself and learn new skills.
I spent my first four weeks on research, at which stage I was making several plans as to what I would film. I was not holding a solid idea then, but with the inspiration I got from the research I just tried to film something in order to built as many sources as I could for a final piece. I wanted to keep them so that I could come back to them afterwards if I ever needed any.
For this project understanding Zen philosophy and its aesthetic was very important, and it was almost impossible to make any piece without understanding the principle. I was interested by one of the Zen principles in which they said that ‘everything in this world changes’. Although it seems simple I found it amazingly profound. It also explains how the Japanese aesthetic differs to that of Western and European people, and I was hoping my work could represent it well enough so that people who do not even know Japan could understand it a little. After narrowing it down to this one principle I needed to film more clips than I already had. I filmed quite a few clips which were discarded in making the final piece. I regret that I did not use a tripod for some of the clips, as the shaky frames in places were a little distracting.
To finally be satisfied with the raw materials for editing the finished piece, I went through three separate film taking stages. At the last stage I was filming the simplest subjects, and the clips I used for the final piece were also filmed at this last stage. Ninety percent of the filmed clips were not used in the end. I do not find it a waste as I feel that they were essential to the final outcome, and without going through those steps I probably would not have made it to the final piece as I expected.
I used ‘IMovie’ to edit and create the film. Several different clips were inserted between one original split clip which required careful editing. I used audio as a strong element of the film and it took me a while to place, overlap and edit until I was finally happy with it.
If I were to do this project again I would make a longer film, I was not able to afford the challenge this time as it could have led to the editing being too long to complete the work in time for the deadline. Although the length of the film is quite short, I think that it is efficiently stating my point. It could actually be an ongoing project for me personally, as the theme has so much potential and the possibility to create more interesting work seems quite promising.
If I were to add something onto my final piece I probably could have inserted text which would explain a little bit more about Zen philosophy and how it is important in our cultural events. It was quite difficult to measure how much of the concept people would understand when they are not really familiar with Zen or Japanese culture, especially as I grew up surrounded by it and never really wondered what it was.
Through the video my voice of ‘Konnichiwa, Sayounara’, means ‘Hello, good-bye’, repeats as the watch ticks, and it overlaps a lot along with clips of fast movements. Second by second we encounter a new moment and then depart from it as soon as we meet the moment. I wanted to empathise the value of each moment we live in by showing the watch tick with my voice greeting the moment.
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