Around the World in 80 Days: Day 10, Artwork

Why are you there again, Sue Anne?  Well, I’m at an artist’s residency to make art and fulfill my sabbatical proposal.  I’ve been busy blogging (obviously), getting around town, meeting people, struggling through a language I don’t understand, screwing up my digestive system (albeit with incredibly tasty things… except squid), and of course, making art.  My plan was to make some privacy related ceramic sculptures and do some ink drawings on them.  Inside of these sculptures I was going to put a raspberry pi (it’s a credit card sized, fully operational computer) connected to a camera and monitor so that essentially the sculpture would spy on the viewer as they looked at it.  Welp.  That raspberry pi can kiss my ankles.  I struggled for days trying to get it to work and built up some very inappropriate rage.  Decided that I would make work that had the same impact without technology.

I brainstormed several ideas for art I could make here. I have some drawing and photoshop ideas I might do in Holland that have to do with the government “accidentally deleting” some files they didn’t want us to know they had.  I’m thinking about “accidentally deleting” parts of drawings and photos of things related to privacy.  I thought about making elaborate tin foil hats.  That’s for you Joey.  (My good friend from high school, Joey, always accuses me of wearing one.)  I could still do the clay sculptures without cameras in them, and Ryder suggested I use paper instead of clay… so that could happen too.

What I think I’ve landed on is making a traditional type of fan here called an uchiwa.  Here are some uchiwa I got at a flea market.

What’s that got to do with privacy or drawing, Sue Anne?  Well, remember this photo from the sushi post?

Can you see my face?  No?  THANK YOU.  But also, I plan to put a bunch of reflective tape on them.  You know, like the kind of reflective surface you see on road signs at night.

That’s the tape and the sticks of bamboo that will become uchiwa pictured above.  Who cares about reflective tape?  Well… I do… and so do security cameras.  Check out this article that explains what infrared led lights and retro-reflective tape do to security cameras.  I’ve punched out several circles that will go on many of them.  Why circles?  Well… that has to do with your printer spying on you.

Here’s a fan I experimented with at home before I came to Japan.  Pics are with and without a flash.

SO… uchiwa with reflective tape on it.  Hide your face and confuse the cameras.  I’m currently cranking away on about 17 fans, and that’s just the beginning.  I managed to wrangle a fan-making workshop out here and I’ve become an unstoppable fan-making force.  Well, that is until I need some crackers from the cracker store (There’s a cracker store!  I’ll blog about it in the future), sweets from the sweet store, a bento box from the butcher, water, or tools and supplies.  Then I have to hop on my bike and ride around town gathering stuff, and that inevitably turns into chatting with the store owners if they speak English, or typing on my phone and showing them the translation.  Then they want to have coffee.  Oy!  LOVE it but I gotta get some art made!  Luckily today looks like a good solid art-making day.  I digress.  Here’s a metric shit-ton of pics from the workshop.

Residents and friends taking the workshop with me.

Raw cut bamboo sticks.

A finished handmade fan serving as our example and a stick with all of the bones cut.

My first fan with a string woven in between the bones to spread them evenly.

Paper on, drying in the sun.

Finished fan.

The guy that gave the workshop, Tadaaki Hachisu, let me have all the rest of the bamboo he cut for it, which is 16 fans.  I’m making all 16 of them assembly line style. I’ve carved the handles for all of them and prepared the top part to have the bones cut. I’m pretty sure I’ll be cutting bones all day today.  I’m planning to alter the shape of the fans and also make them three dimensional.  I’d love to add lights into/on them, but don’t know what kind of resources I have around here.  Soon I’ll be taking an ink drawing workshop and I’ll learn some ink techniques to paint on the paper that will go on the fans.

I will, dare I say, keep you posted.

Love,

~S

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