Farmers, Artists, and… Bill Murray? The Show Opening in Megijima

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Farm tour of Megijima with regional natural farmers.

When I think about what we’ve done over the past month here in Megijima, I am reminded of Bill Murray making a commercial for Suntory Japanese whiskey… if he had to do it for one month straight.

After a month or so of Lost in Translation moments — and with much help from Professor Suizu and his MFA students from Aichi University of the Arts, as well as a great cast of volunteers from Setouchi / Team Koebi — the [HUMAN:NATURE] team successfully premiered our interactive documentary and held a symposium with three visiting farmers from around Japan.

Matsuzawa san gives a lecture on his style of natural/organic farming at the [HUMAN:NATURE] lecture in MegiHouse, Megijima, Takamatsu, Japan
Matsuzawa san gives a lecture on his style of natural/organic farming at the [HUMAN:NATURE] lecture in MegiHouse, Megijima, Takamatsu, Japan
It was stretch of long and tiring days leading up to the exhibition, one room buzzing with the sights and sounds of thirty local stories being sorted, cut, and transcribed, and another room a soup of English translation, program code, and the final edits.

The storytelling team hard at work in Megijima, Japan
The storytelling team hard at work in Megijima, Japan
The editing team hard at work in Megijima, Japan
The editing team hard at work in Megijima, Japan

Come show day, we wanted to give the visiting farmers a taste of the island, so Ryushi and I guided them on a walking tour of Megijima’s farmland.

Farmers Matsuzawa and Kohno, surveying farms on Megijima with Patrick and translator Ryushi
Farmers Matsuzawa and Kohno, surveying farms on Megijima with Patrick and translator Ryushi
Megijima's small townside farmland
Megijima’s small townside farmland

After the walk, we headed for a special lunch at Kishu, a restaurant right in the middle of the main patch of Megijima’s farmland, featuring local fish and produce.

The feast at Kishu Restaurant in Megijima, Japan
The feast at Kishu Restaurant in Megijima, Japan

The afternoon took us to MEGI House, a project of the architecture program at Aichi University of the Arts which mixes traditional Japanese architecture with modern design twists. We were really delighted to see so many familiar faces from the community, gathered for the event as we unveiled the digital interactive artwork and had them give it a try.

Team Software Engineer Johann, explaining the program to our audience in Megijima
Team Software Engineer Johann, explaining the program to our audience in Megijima

 

Megijima Police officer, Mr. Hiromi, in attendance for the unveiling
Megijima Police officer, Mr. Hiromi, in attendance for the unveiling
Kawai and Yokoyama come out for the show at Megi House
Kawai and Yokoyama come out for the show at Megi House

On this particular day though, the unveiling was really just the icing… our cake was triple-layer, consisting of dynamic talks from farmers Mr. Matsuzawa, Mr. Kohno, and Mr. Okitsu.

Farmer Kohno san lecturing at the HUMAN:NATURE Symposium in Megi House, Megijima, Japan
Farmer Kohno san lecturing at the HUMAN:NATURE Symposium in Megi House, Megijima, Japan
Farmer Okitsu san lecturing at the HUMAN:NATURE Symposium in Megi House, Megijima, Japan
Farmer Okitsu san lecturing at the HUMAN:NATURE Symposium in Megi House, Megijima, Japan

In the End

After a month of work, and after the dust has cleared from the opening festivities and lecture event, we are left with thirty stories from individuals on the island. Most of our interviewees are blessed with several decades of life experience, and all of them are speaking of their connection with a natural place on the island.

A few of our interviewees on Megiima, smile portraits by Suhee Kang
A few of our interviewees on Megiima, smile portraits by Suhee Kang

It’s part community mapping, part research, part art, and in the end, it’s an interactive documentary of the relationships between people, family, nature, and the places we inhabit.

Visitors watch a video piece, one of the thirty stories of Megijima's human-nature connection
Visitors watch a video piece, one of the thirty stories of Megijima’s human-nature connection

Gallery visitors interact with the [HUMAN:NATURE] artwork at MEGI House
Gallery visitors interact with the [HUMAN:NATURE] artwork at MEGI House
And hopefully we’ve maintained something in the translations…

 

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