Jikke Lesterhuis

シフトスペース - Shifting Spaces

Shifting Spaces is an installation constructed of Japanese-inspired folding screens. With great detail and admiration for this Japanese craft tradition, the installation explores the folding screen in juxtaposition with contemporary visual art. Referring to the “hybrid” in its simplest form, the folding screens act as functional, architectural objects that can open up or close spaces. But they can also be seen as conventional projection screens within the contemporary visual arts. The installation presents three animations that I made during my residency in Itoshima, (Fukuoka prefecture), Japan in 2022. 

サイレント周波数 - SILENT FREQUENCIES (16:9, 00:03:10)

Silent Frequencies (サイレント周波数)  is a multimedia project in which animation, sound and words come together in a short film. It is an exploration of the interaction between man and nature. The short animation pays homage to moss, a beautiful natural phenomenon often thought of as a weed in Europe, but worshiped in Japan. This allows the mosses to roam freely, resulting in an enchanting green carpet that rolls through nature like an airstrip.

The poem in the film is inspired by ancient Japanese poetry (waka) and takes the viewer on a journey in which man and nature meet. 

東京地下鉄シャッフル - SUBWAY SHUFFLE (16:9, 00:03:11)

Tokyo Subway Shuffle (東京地下鉄シャッフル) is a short animated film about a subterranean city. Due to the overwhelming grandeur of the city, the underground rail network is a place where you spend a lot of time. Neatly lined up to enter the train, back to back but carefully avoiding any physical contact, no exchange of looks, all in their own individual bubble through the bustling, noisy city.

An experience that almost feels like a ceremony, each movement leading to the next, with no gesture wasted. Not rushed, not dragging, but with a sense of forward motion.



式 - CEREMONY (16:9, 00:02:30)

This animation is about the feeling of forward motion during a ceremony. No dragging, no rushing, every movement leads to the next, with no wasted gesture.



BACKGROUND

Nature has been variously considered both part of us and quite apart from us, nurturing and dangerous, animate and machine-like, spiritual and material. These differences emerge when you look, for example, at the Western approach to nature and the Japanese’. An elemental juxtaposition of nature and culture is deep-seated and pervasive in Western thought, with nature frequently serving as shorthand for the natural world and the physical environment. Nature is often presumed to be an objective reality with universal qualities unaffected by considerations of time, culture, and place, an assumption especially evident in appeals to nature as a source of external authority. 

The myths and beliefs that gave rise to Japanese culture, delineate - in contrast to the West - a universe in which everything is inextricably linked. The commonly held view that the Japanese have a ‘love of nature’ has been developed and repeated for centuries by both Japanese and observers of Japan. Closely related to this notion of love is the equally widely held notion that the Japanese live in harmony with nature. According to Saito Yurino, the Japanese find identification with nature in two ways; one she calls emotional (emotive) identification; the other is based upon the transience of both man and nature.[1]Through the former, human emotions find expression in terms of natural objects and phenomena, be they dew, rain, a mountain or a frog. Through the latter, the transience of human life is associated with the transience of nature, which ‘stems from the conviction that nature and man are essentially the same, rooted in the same principle of existence’.

The close relation between an aesthetic appreciation of nature and the religious is, for example, observed in Shintõ, where kami (divinity) is believed to have taken abode in natural features that give people a feeling of awe or spirituality, such as the sun and moon, rocks, streams, old trees, caves, flowers, animals, and people of special character or standing. Indeed, according to Japanese mythology, natural phenomena are themselves the offspring of deities. In a sense then, nature is divine and represents kami. According to Takasumu Senge, priest of the great shrine of Izumo; “There is no place in which a god does not reside, even in the wild waves’ eight hundred folds or in the wild mountain’s bosom”.[2] This intimate relationship between man, kami and nature was the core of the ancient religious ethos in Japan. 

Another declaration of the appreciation of nature can be sought in ancient Japanese literature. The Kokinshu is an early anthology of the Waka from Japanese poetry, dating from the Heian period (794-1185). Waka is the term used for ancient Japanese poetry that emerged from careful observation which was used to express human emotions. As Tsurayuki Kana wrote in the preface of the Kokinshu; “The songs of Japan take the human heart as their seed and flourish as myriad leaves of words. As long as they are alive to this world, the cares and deeds of men and women are endless, so they speak of things they hear and see, giving words to the feelings in their hearts. Hearing the cries of the bush warbler among the blossoms or the calls of the frog that lives in the waters, how can we doubt that every living creature sings its song? Without using force, poetry moves heaven and earth, makes even the unseen spirits and gods feel pity, smoothes the bonds between man and woman, and consoles the hearts of fierce warriors.”.[3] The kana preface stresses the central role of nature both as a stimulus to poetry and song and as an expression of human thought and emotion. It also emphasizes the close relationship between humans and nature, the universality of poetic composition or song, and the ability of poetry to bring about social harmony - all of which were to become fundamental elements in the mythology of waka - based nature. 

In the twelfth century, Fujiwara no Shunzei (1114–1204), probably the most influential poet of his time, took the role of nature-based waka to another level in his poetic treatise Koraifuteishō (Collection of Poetic Styles Old and New, 1197):

“As stated in the preface to the Kokinshu, Japanese poetry takes the human heart as its seed and grows into myriad leaves of words. Thus, without Japanese poetry, even if one were to seek out the cherry blossoms in the spring or look at the bright foliage of autumn, there would be no one who would recognize the color or the scent... As the months pass and the seasons change, and as the cherry blossoms give way to bright autumn leaves, we are reminded of the words and images of poems and feel as if we can discern the quality of those poems.”.[4] If Tsurayuki established what we might call the expressive-affective model, in which nature is the key means to articulate emotions and thoughts, then Shunzei established a highly influential cognitive, intertextual model, in which the knowledge of nature-based poetry is necessary for humans to see and respond to nature, to recognize its colors and scents. In this view, waka cultivates us, giving us the heart to respond to nature.

I have a fascination for the metaphysical universe and the many layers to the world. We are not seeing reality; we are seeing a story our brain created for us. The mind joins up the dots between the data that your senses collect. The mind is a mysterious place, and everyone works just a little differently. 

I found inspiration in the animistic environment and how man and nature are inextricably linked. Animism is the belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things — animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork, and perhaps even words — as animated and alive. This appreciation of nature can also be found in ancient Japanese literature known as Waka. A reality where everything in the universe is inextricably linked. Shifting Spaces explores the narration of my own universe, using my body and senses as a bridge through which the external world flows into me, and I flows into it. By using animation, illustration and field recordings, the invisible phenomena in the abysses of my unconscious become corporeal.


[1]  Saito 1985: 248

[2]  Takasumu Senge quoted in Nakamura 1964: 350

[3] Ki no Tsurayuki, kana preface, in Kokin wakash} , ed. Kojima Noriyuki and Arai Eiz[, SNKBT 5 (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1989), 4.

[4] Fujiwara no Shunzei, Koraif}teish[ , in Karonsh} , ed. Hashimoto Fumio, Ariyoshi Tamotsu, and Fujihira Haruo, NKBZ 50 (Tokyo: Sh[gakukan, 1975), 273, 371.


EXHIBITIONS

2023 - CICA Czong Institute for Contemporary Art, Czong, South Korea (solo exhibition)

2022 - Studio Kura, Itoshima, Japan (group show)