Oct. 22, 1996 Nov. 5, 1996

Art Watch Index - Oct. 29, 1996


"Independence Day" and "Mahjong"
- Two Films at the 1996 Tokyo International Film Festival
Yuzo MORITA
The Exhibition by Ingo Gunther,<<Refugee Republic>>
at P3 art and environment
Yukiko SHIKATA
[London] <<Living Bridges>>
Why Do Architects Want To Build Bridges So Much?
Yoshitaka MOURI

Art Watch Back Number Index



Tokyo International Film Festival
Location:
Participating film theaters in Shibuya
Period:
September 27 - October 6, 1996
Information:
Organizing Committee Office for the Tokyo International Film Festival
Tel.03-3563 6305
Edward Yang's Couples






The Film Festivals Server - Tokyo
http://www.filmfestivals.
com/tokyo/index.htm

Independence Day-The Mothership Site
http://www.hooked.net/
~bchoi/ID4.html

Mahjong
The Film Festivals Server - Berlin Film
http://www.filmfestivals.
com/berlin/bfilme3.htm

"Independence Day" and "Mahjong"
- Two Films at the 1996 Tokyo International Film Festival

Yuzo MORITA



It is unknown as to what brought this about, but this year, at the Tokyo International Film Festival, "Independence Day" became the opening film. This was released on Independence Day in the United States, immediately rewriting the box office records, so there must have been certain "values" to this movie. Putting aside the already indicated interpretation about this film, I would like to endeavour to write about this poor film which is even too slack to be called reactionary.

The weakness of "Independence Day", which can be summarized as a story about countering the attacks by extra-terrestrials towards the earth, does not lie in the story which sounds "vaguely familiar", nor is the movie a "parody" of an already produced film. It is disappointing that because the narrative form, or in words suitable to this movie, the style of information communication, lacks the sense of history so much so that it merely spreads around a miserable, transparent optimism, which even loses the qualification for the film to be called reactionary. For example, I will take up the problem of how to indicate the "simultaneous" attack by the extra-terrestrials on various areas including the United States, Egypt, Russia, Japan, and Africa, which happens in the story. Usually, the film technique of expressing "simultaneity" of events which happen in multiple times and places, is called parallel montage, remembered with the name D. W. Griffith. Since this technique, which works by substituting the visual continuity with "simultaneity" of the story, is forced to betray the reality in front of our eyes due to the organic nature of the story, many directors have attempted to break the fetters of this style. However, "Independence Day" only displays a very naive parallel montage. That is not all. When the United States President states the "Declaration of Independence" in the film, as if to imply that evil will be destroyed with the unified cooperation of the people, because of the organic structure of the whole film assumed in advance, it straightforwardly matches with the narrative form of "consuming the parts", creating something like a performative banality. There was not even one time, when a film possessed a method of indicating multiple existences in different environments as "simultaneous" "parallel", or "equal". If the film itself is already a product of differentiation, besides the audio-visual constructed material called "Independence Day" naively forgetting the conditions for self-existence, it even becomes a miserable (film) that forces its optimism on others.

The elegant radicalism of Edward Yang

Then, before I ask the question of whether a movie aged more than 100 years should be buried under such unawareness, I ask the question, how should people behave? From what chances of fortune this film came to be shown at the Tokyo International Film Festival at the same time, we do not know, but Edward Yang's "Mahjong", to be released this fall, possesses an elegance ranging to radicalism. Because of that, it emits an incomparable glow of aloofness in such moments of hesitation. I can definitely declare that the opinion that Edward Yang, who murmurred in a certain context, that "after ten years, this (country) will be the center of the world", is arrogant compared to the "democratic" United States President, is a mistake. I have already mentioned that what seems, at first glance, to equally keep an eye on everything, naively relies on the format of differentiation which is at work here, and conveniently forgets the existence before one's eyes. A film is absolutely not a medium that truthfully expresses all things. Only those which accept the pains, not resting among the "equal" and "privileged", and "relative" differentiating movement which consumes energy, will be able to encounter the "center", which is the only and the all, that supercedes comparison. It is heart-moving that what teaches us that idea, is the last scene of "Mahjong", which embarasses the viewer due to its overwhelming beauty. That is because this almost wordless scene realizes communication which is not communication of a strong degree using the visual, nor is it a communication using diluted images. If the consciousness that the film is a medium has proliferated, Edward Yang's new work is no longer even a movie. Such an absolute newness appears in the John Ford-like long shot, merely in a scene where a person turns back, as in the film of Mikio Naruse. In order to be taken aback by that overwhelming simplicity, it is probably necessary to view the "real" visual of "Independence Day" which "freely uses" the SFX technology.

[Yuzo MORITA/Film Critic]

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The Exhibition by Ingo Gunther,
<<Refugee Republic>>

Location:
P3 art and environment
Period:
October 4 - 27, 1996
Hours:
11:00-19:00(Closed every Monday)
Information:
P3 art and environment
Tel.03-3353-6866
email: info@p3.org






Refugee Republic
http://refugee.net/

P3 art and environment
http://www.p3.org/

The Exhibition by Ingo Gunther,
<<Refugee Republic>>

at P3 art and environment

Yukiko SHIKATA



This has been Gunther's project since 1993, where he has created a logo of "RR (Refugee Republic)" which is based on that of Rolls Royce, and has been using various media such as T-shirts and the Internet for his work. However, this is the first time he has expressed his project in the form of an installation. On the black floor inside a dark room, irregular patterns created by white lines are drawn. At about 90 cm above the floor, red fluorescent lamps are connected, sometimes independently lighting up to express irregular lines. On the surface of the fluorescent lamps, fragments of the declaration from the "Refugee Republic" are written in both Japanese and English. One soon realizes that the patterns on the floor are territorial borderlines taken from the world map that are highlighted, and that the placement of the fluorescent lamps indicate the flow of refugees who cross the borderlines. Visitors wander in the "non-homogeneous" space created by the red "edges", and by reading the written words randomly, they take flight on the voyage to the "Refugee Republic". Gunther declares, "refugees = capital", and that "refugees are the future avant gardes". He reverses the understanding of the refugees, who continue to increase (are forced to increase) around the world, as people not to be exluded, but as those who have useful potential as qcapitalr. Moreover, he is trying to promote a qstater (= post-state) of a virtual community established autonomously by them. The <<Refugee Republic>> which aims for the "non-statelike" <state> In this project, the intention is to have each individual reconsider the ideas such as "refugees", "capital", and "state", for their new meanings in the future. Refugees are people who are forced to become excluded/scattered from their country or their culture through political, economical, cultural reasons or by war. Here, I would like to add not only the physical refugees, but also the mental, potential refugees in the list. In other words, those who become refugees proactively. If we were to borrow Foucault's words, "people must all become refugees", and this means objectifying various norms/institutions such as economy and politics, to shift and deviate from their functions, and to become aware of the possibilities which become voids. It means to become aware of the passive identification where, from the moment of birth, one is automatically subject to a territory, and to depart from such a subjectification, the state, and to become a nomad. Becoming a refugee must become a positive opportunity. The state has the authority to control its people under that title. What is aimed at in the <<Refugee Republic>>is a "non-statelike" <state> that can depart from that centripetal force. The development of media technology, starting with the Internet, carries the potential to open up a community created by a mixture which does not depend on land, race, or language, which are, in a way, relationships fabricated and believed without a doubt. The future which can be opened up by departing from racism Through the Internet, anyone who approves the idea of a <<Refugee Republic>> can participate. However, considering that many of the actual refugees, who are forced to be in such a position, are in a situation where they cannot access the Internet, in fact, the stance of the two parties are distant. A Vietnamese screenwriter and critic living in the United States, Trinh T. Minh-ha, said "people must become aware of the difficult viewpoint of <voyeurism>, because when they 'consume' a love story (the same is said of films), we become the <ultimate voyeurist>" (from "Hermes", November, 1996). This can be applied when we see the refugees through mass media. On the other hand, it is required on the refugees' part that they not fall into a simple victimized attitude, or turn to regain their land as a reactionary move, but to become aware of departing from territorialism and racism. Because we all have different stances, a future, with the <<Refugee Republic>> as a conversion point, may be open to us. Gunther is practicing this purely from the standpoint of an artist.

[Yukiko SHIKATA/Art Critic]

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<<Living Bridges>>
Location:
Royal Academy of Arts
Period:
September 26 - December 18, 1996
Hours:
10:00 - 18:00
Information:
Royal Academy of Arts
Piccadilly, W1
Tel.0171-439-7438
Pont-Neuf

Project for the Pont Neuf, 1578
Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid

Scale model of Zaha Hadid
(displayed at the competition)
Collection Zaha Hadid

Garden Bridge

Antoine Grumbach
"The Garden Bridge"(montage)
(displayed at the competition)

Garden Bridge

Sectional Plan of "The Garden Bridge"
Collection Antoine Grumbach






Richard Rogers : biography http://www.latech.edu/
tech/arch/projects/
pamn/pamnbio.html

[London]
<<Living Bridges>>
Why Do Architects Want To Build Bridges So Much?

Yoshitaka MOURI



The Thames River Redevelopment Project back into the spotlight

In London, arguments about the redevelopment of the area around the Thames River are becoming heated again. However, until recently, the riverside redevelopment plan centered around the Dockland, which was spotlighted in the '80's, had seemed to have faced a setback from 1990, due to the rapidly deteriorating English economic environment. In actuality, even today, the Dockland area, mainly Surrey and Canary Wharf, cannot be described as rejuvenated, and moreover, the economy has not arrived at an upswing. Even then, the arguments about the Thames River are becoming heated among a specific group. <<Living Bridges>> held at the Royal Academy of Arts near Piccadilly, is an exhibition derived from the repercussions of such arguments. As the title indicates, this is an exhibition about bridges, but it is not merely a collection of bridges shown as traffic connections made for the purpose of crossing rivers. It is an exhibition that shows "inhabited bridges", i.e. bridges with residential and commercial spaces. The exhibition site is divided largely into two parts.

An exhibition consisting of actual historical inhabited bridges and past utopian bridge plans

The first part is about the history of inhabited bridges. The London Bridge built between 1176 and 1209 was the only bridge built, within the city of London over the Thames River, until the 18th century. From the beginning, it was an inhabited bridge having residential and commercial spaces on both ends. From the Middle Ages to the18th century, there were few inhabited bridges, but with the development of traffic technology, bridges with the unilateral purpose of vehicle transportation replaced inhabited bridges, and there are very few of these still existing in Europe. Also, during this period, many utopian inhabited bridge projects were dreamed up by many architects. In the exhibition, one is able to see such unrealized projects too. Among them, the project for the Pont Neuf designed by Jacques I Androuet de Cerceau is thrilling.

Is there meaning in building an inhabited bridge on the Thames River today?
The competition for the Thames River inhabited bridge

The second part is a competition for the new bridge over the Thames River which is received with pros and cons (actually, in the media, it seems there are more cons). The theme for the project is to build a complex inhabited bridge having multi-purpose residential/commericial spaces built to connect the Temple station on the north bank of the Thames and the London Television Center on the south bank. There are eight participating architects/groups, Zaha Hadid, Antoine Grumbach, Branson Coats, Future Systems, Krier/Kohl, Daniel Libeskind, and Ian Ritchie. The judging committee that discussed the works ahead of the exhibition has selected works by Zaha Hadid and Antoine Gurmbach as excellent, but the final decision is made by a general vote held during the exhibition period.

The feature of this competition is that even if a plan is selected, there is no guarantee that the bridge will actually be built. That is why an inhabited bridge is designed. Because budgeting for the bridge construction by the public organization is impossible at this point, a style of an inhabited bridge, where the bridge itself has a business structure, is chosen as a last resort. In other words, it means, "There is a plan. Negotiation with the autonomous bodies are possible. If there is any corporation who thinks this is possible as a business, please buy this plan." However, isn't this taking things for granted? First of all, there is no reason why a bridge is necessary over the Thames where even now, there are enough bridges built. Architects led by Richard Rogers, one of the leaders in the redevelopment plan of the Thames, have made suggestions one after another for this bridge. For what have they been doing this? According to them, they wanted to create a symbol of London, as we welcome the year 2000. It is understandable that the symbol of London must be a bridge over the Thames, which is closely related to the navigation technology that supported the British Empire. Maybe the skills of English architects must be demonstrated through the bridge over the Thames, and not in designing museums or airports. Still, is that not merely nostalgia for the institution called architecture, and for the "good old days of England"? At the exit, I placed a vote for Zaha Hadid. However, on the bottom of the ballot paper, I wrote, "on condition that this plan will not become realized".

[Yoshitaka MOURI/Cultural Studies]
mouri@dircon.co.uk

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Art Watch Back Number Index

Oct. 22, 1996 Nov. 5, 1996


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