The Tokyo Underground: Preparatory Notes

Below is an excerpt from my Project Proposal back in March 2014. The intended project was to be a site-specific piece of art using the Tokyo Underground for the location. Currently, I am in the process of making preparatory notes for the project Don’t Have Nightmares 0.2: The Tokyo Underground , documenting an aspect of Japanese social realism.  The Tokyo Underground. Provisionally speaking, the focus will be predominantly on confined spaces and the intensity of the rush hour.

AREAS OF RESEARCH

Site-specific art (artists/locations/mediums/exhibitions)

Tokyo Underground (history/maps/public signs & symbols/train designs/train times/statistical data/ /terrorist attacks)/train staff, uniforms,actions/graffiti/public services)

Japanese Social Realism- The Underground (commuters, actions, etiquette & train customs/Japanese subcultures/semiotics/suicides/ the rush hour)

 

March, 2014

Presently, I have one major project in mind which I am considering, it involves being site-specific and is a microcosm of Japanese society. I intend to use the Tokyo Underground as a work space. In the mid-90s, while an undergraduate at Bristol University, I was very inspired by a photographic exhibition titled ‘Workers’, by the Social Documentary photographer Sebastiao Salgado. His images reveal the kinds of extremities people have to endure in their daily working lives. Using the Tokyo Underground as the stage for my for my context, I intend to film at Shinjuku station and capture the everyday intensity that occurs each day during the rush hours.
Shinjuku station alone disgorges 900,000 passengers each morning, sucking them in again in the evening, some of the men (and they are mostly men) by now inebriated, before dumping them in their distant bedroom towns. Indeed, the commuting salaryman—the selfless company drone, one among a sea of dark suits pushed on to their morning train by white-gloved platform attendants—has as much claim to be Tokyo’s iconic figure as Christ the Redeemer has for Rio de Janeiro. The Economist, 2011
As an American journalist commented on CNN recently, “It’s just bodies squished as tightly as you can be into a small space. You can see people whose feet aren’t touching the ground sometimes because they are wedged in so tightly,” For my project, I hope to film sequences in the underground that exhibit the intense congestion within a small space (i.e. the train carriage). The rushes (footage) can then be animated using the rotoscope technique. As well as filming in the underground, I will also record visuals with a series of pencil sketches and photographs. The visuals will be included in the journal as part of the experimentation process.

 

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