It’s been almost two weeks since I arrived in Tokyo for a 7-weeks residency at Tokyo Wonder Site (TWS). I know the city really well, since this is my 6th visit. Three years ago I had stayed for about half a year as a resident artist in a research lab at the University of Tokyo (Todai). Nevertheless, it always amazes me how fast time is running in Tokyo!
It’s great to be back and have been given the opportunity to stay and work on elaborating a project idea which is the concept behind of TWS’ program of research residencies. TWS itself is a somewhat strange place, set up in an office building in the commercial heart of the city in Aoyama, where you can’t throw a stone without hitting a Louis Vuitton or Prada-window. Since it is in an office building the whole place does feel a bit ‘officy’, windows can’t be opened, the carpet-tiles are functional and one must always show their ID-card to an anonymous voice from the intercom upon entering the building. However, the mood of TWS-stuff is helpful and easy-going, despite the first impression that was coined by a plethora of contracts and forms we’ve been presented to.
My project is a collaboration with Japanese artist Tomoko Hayashi whom I’ve got to know through my stay at the Uni of Tokyo. We want to investigate the notion of idyll in the megacity, leading us to imagine and draft poetic retreats for its citizens that allow for an experience of idyll.
We are doing fieldwork, interviews and research about the city, it’s myths and its past, have meetings with architectural researchers, investigate places etc. and this all makes sense. We also plan to build mockups for devices that alter perception to be put out there in the public domain – this doesn’t make sense. Why? Because TWS doesn’t provide a studio for research residency fellows. We all work in our rooms – or at best in the common room next to the kitchen. I work around this challenge with the help of my contacts in the Meta Perception Research Group at Todai, who let me come around and use their tools. Not to mention intense lectures on optical physics…a luxury that I hardly find in Berlin.
So, even if my studio situation back home is way better then what I find here, the exchange that I have with people that I know from before, my fellow residents and new people that I meet is worth the travel. Tokyo has been and still is the most inspiring, exciting and amazing city that I know and being here helps me to put things into a bigger, global perspective. This is what I sometimes really miss back in Berlin…