This piece was made for the exhibition 'Palimpsest' at Washington Project for the Arts, DC. Listen here.
As a ritual of remembrance in the style of “Lectio Divina” (divine reading), on March 11th, I contemplatively read the article “Japan Tsunami Anniversary,” yet could not transcend my distraction from the surrounding headlines, advertisements, images, navigation menus, animated gifs, etc. To give form to the many layers of visual noise that continuously flood our vision (which arguably creates a barrier to empathetic connection), I recorded not only the reading of the article text itself, but also all of the text surrounding the article, in the same contemplative way. The arguably more significant information––the content of the article itself––is overpowered: one may only pick up an occasional meaningful word such as “earthquake,” “Fukushima,” and “crisis”. As the sound piece reveals, by the length of the resulting tracks, reading through the navigation menus and surrounding headlines of other articles took considerably more time than the reading of the article itself, suggesting a particular weight of importance. In addition, my voice, when layered upon itself in the lectio divina style of reading, becomes almost mechanical, further suggestive of emotional distance and barriers to empathy.
Braille text, scrap-booking embellishments
Scrapbooking embellishments serve to adorn experiences “preserved” between the pages of ready-made scrapbooks: some moments from our past are made pretty, while others are implicitly erased. In the piece Between Here and There Lies Fukushima these embellishments are poetically transformed into braille text on the gallery wall. "Here is vague, "there" is vague... where is Fukushima exactly? The text metaphorically points to a kind of blindness and invisibility.
My work as of late has examined the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan, a result of the 2011 tsunami. I have sought to question and challenge the emotional distance and lack of awareness in the U.S. of this global tragedy, which has surpassed Chernobyl in gravity and scope. The scrapbooking embellishments serve to ground the tragedy in the personal (we are interconnected after all). Yet simultaneously, the foregrounded "sparkliness" and kitsch sentiment act also as a barrier, symbolically underscoring the challenge to emotional engagement with catastrophe.