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Message from Artists

The massive speed and amount of information around us has certainly facilitated our lives and helped us to keep in touch with others. However, how many of us can really say that our interpersonal relationships are deepened by the presence of the technology?

The main objective of our project, "Listening In/ Looking out", is to create artwork through the multimodal communication between children and adults, across the national, cultural, and generational boundaries.  Children in Sendai first listen to the music written by the composer, and simultaneously improvise with crayons and paintbrushes to create visual works, which then are then turned into the video work by the video artist. The video is then handed back to the same children and used as a "visual score" for their workshop on musical improvisation.  The sound materials of the workshop are gathered and edited together with the original music, and finally layered on top of the live improvisation by a cellist and a percussionist, with the accompanying video.  The final recording of the project is then presented to children in the US, and the same creative process is then mirrored across the ocean.

As we think about the sensory functions of eyes and ears, and compare their structures quantitatively, we cannot ignore the facts that there are over 137 million photo-sensitive cells on the retina of an eye, while there are only about 30,000 cilia cells delicately dancing on the basilar membrane inside the ear.  From looking at the sheer numbers of cells, perhaps it is easy to draw the conclusion that the eye (vision) is superior to the ear (hearing).  However, is a comparison like this truly meaningful?  German filmmaker, Wim Wenders, once said, "Our eyes put us on the edge of the world, while our ears put us inside of the world."  Our vision certainly creates the boundary which separates "us" from the "outside" world, and helps us to gauge how far we are from the things that are "outside" to "us".  On the other hand, our ears, in a sense, immediately throw us out into the world, while making us engage with the world which surrounds us.  Aside from the evolutionary discussion as to which is more developed as a sensory organ, Wenders' words make us reflect on the impossibility of judging the quality of our sensory or communicative information based on the sheer quantitative facts about our organs.

Bigger and faster does not necessarily mean better, when it comes to our communication, perhaps. We as artists wish to provide an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the quality of our communication, while both adults and children can fully engage our senses to create and share our collaborative project with a wide range of audiences in Japan and the US.