SLIDES AND MUSIC (2001)
It was at a party celebrating publishing of "Midnight -Kim Ji Ha and Tomiyama Taeko poetry picture book" at YMCA in Ichigaya, when I first met Tomiyama. They decided to produce record with that poetry book, and I accompanied to the recording with Kuronuma Yuriko, who played the violin in the music composed by Hayashi Hikaru for imprisoned Kim's poetry and Tomiyama's lithograph.
I composed music for "Chained Hands in Prayer" for Tomiyama when she reproduced that work into slides. That is how the "Atelier HIDANE (a fire)" has started. I then gradually have been dragged into collaboration with her, and found out that I have been working with her for 25 years. I have never worked with one artist for this long. In fact, I encouraged her many times to collaborate with other musicians only to find that she was unhappy with them for some reason and the work with her came back to me. I, in other words, could not say no.
I found, however, her work and thoughts deepened and vary work after work, and that interests me. At first she prioritized political agenda of urgent message in her work such as "Chained Hands in Prayer" or "Prayer in Memory; Kwangju, May 1980", later her expression was widened and deepened in time and space, her paintings are more like a symbolic icon. Instead of thick black line, now she uses bright but sinsitive multi-colored layers. When she picked up the issues such as "comfort women" or prostitution, rather than indictment, she listens stories of the hurts, and she tries to relieve their pain into the primeval feminine Universe. In the world viewed from a house of a shaman where the dead and alive come and go, the time now is still under the primeval Eurasian sky, and the place here is Kabuki-cho Tokyo and at the same time is the Manchurian steppe.
Age and Expression
As the time changed, the style of music composed for these slides as well as the thinking on music in general also has changed. Our first collaboration "Chained Hands in Prayer" was centered around piano variations of the hymn with Kim's lyrics as Hayashi Hikaru did. In "Prayer in Memory", I used the protest songs sang by the students then and well known Korean folk songs to depict the story of the Kwangju uprising.
In "A Memory of the Sea"(1988), as the shaman as the mediator of the dead and the alive appeared, music was composed using Korean folk elements and many other sound samples controlled through computer program. In "The Thai Girl Who Never Came Home"(1991), and "Requiem for 20th Century, Harbin Station"(1995), music consist of city noise samples and the remix of pop songs during the World War II. In these works music for each scene was composed independently from the pictures and provided as a component of the total mixture.
The music for "The Fox Story, Illusions of Cherry Blossoms and Chrysanthemum"(1998), uses neither electronics nor computer. It was semi-improvisatory play of flute and piano, together with simple percussion rhythms. Korean or Japanese folk tunes are quoted but not in the orginal format. This music was composed and recorded prior to the pictures. There is a story but no narration. The inserted poetic comments as subtitles explain each scene. Here at the first time, the slides became a "Collaboration of Paintings and Music".
The other works were always accompanied by narrating voices. It was the influence of the Japanese documentary films of the period. In those films, narration explained everything uninterruptedly that made visual images like a flat illustration. Music was used to enhance emotions, and it, in turn, made narrative voices sound somewhat sentimental. Even the story itself was nothing but an illustration of political message if all are explained and informations crammed as much as possible.
Audiences have no time to see pictures, to listen to music, or even to think, being too busy with words.
Instead, the slides pictures are static. It is audiences' eyes that weave the web of meaning of pictures. Their eyes question pictures with the help of the icons in it or suggested by words in subtitles. There is no fixed answer. Each eye found different answer and still it remains something that could not be answered.
Music That Is Not Called "MUSIC"
Sound does not have meaning as the words have. Sound is just a sound. Or not even that. It is a timbre that is gone when we thought we get there. It is a breath without rhythm, a wave carrying timbres and carrying them away.
It is not so long ago when the music became as "music" to be listened to, just like when the books were read silently and pictures were put in the frame on the wall.
The movements of fingers on instruments and breath that blown into them appears and disappears on the spot. We name this process as sound and treat it as an substance, and think of music like a tower built with a colored pebbles. We regard music as if it is an invisible art, so that we can keep the permanent memory of sounds as musical works fixed in scores or in recordings.
Not everyone can conceive music as visualized abstract images separated from surrounding environment and daily life. When the music was heard in the closed space away from the daily life called "concert hall", those who listen was named "audience". The audience behaves as if they are qualified because they "understand music". But nobody questions about if you understand the sounds in your daily life or not. No one would consider Bon Festival dance or village shrine dance theater as "musical compositions" .
Long time ago music was played when people were born, initiated, married, died, or at the celebrations of season change, harvest, peace pact.... These were the music to open people's hearts. Also a charming sounds of instruments to court girls, to welcome friends, labor songs, songs for prayer, lullaby.... There also were instruments with small sounds, for people to play when they feel lonely.
That music was not called "music", but just called drums, flute, or bamboo. Those musical instruments that have a certain function in a social situation are not to be studied just as sounds or music.
After the Deconstruction of Art
When there is no letters, or among those who were excluded from the art of reading and writing, useful informations and history are passed on as songs. The invisible was made visible by engraving. Epics sometimes were supported by showing pictures. In Tibet and India, there are still arts of storytelling for history, legends, and religious tales, pointing at the pictures. It could be the same in Japan with picture scrolls. For example, there was a special day when people gathered to the temple and the monk showed the picture scroll stored there with storytelling. As it became a performing art by the professionals, artistic beauty and interests rather than religious doctrines were sought after. Technical improvements and refinments were easier with the separation of picture, music and narration. As framed pictures, music scores, recordings, printed books are sold and bought, owned, treasured, the techniques of arts were specialized and even traded. This happens everywhere in the world not necessarily as the result of forced modernization by Europe. It also was the result of the endogenous liberation from the dogma in the process of deconstruction of the pre-modern power structure.
Deconstruction of art is still going on as the modern world system is disintegrating. Various interactions and hybrids of art genres which have been divided, refined and controlled are being tested. Not like highly controlled and managed art in the system such as Hollywood movies or operas, individual artists who have been forced to live in the peripheral of art system join hands voluntarily and create alternative perspectives. This movement no doubt would go beyond making something interesting, but create new human relations through the activities, to question society, norms, and/or peoples' daily lives.
This collaboration of slides and music is one of those experiments. Pictures appear and disappear instead of being framed on the wall in the museum, and music is not anymore a fixed composition as a musical score but returns to the origine of the performance as listening to sounds, and touching the instruments. The interaction of these two modes of art is proposed as a mirror in front of the audience. All questions will be reflected back to those who have asked themselves.
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