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Visualize yourself inside an old Japanese house. You enter through a wooden sliding door which creaks along, interrupted only by the sound of socks sliding onto the tatami-covered floor. The image that you have just created inside your head, is a space that you built from a collection of your own memories, imaginations and dreams. If you take away physicality, smell, touch and proximity, when does this space cease to be a space? At what point do someone else’s projections of Japan become your memory and define the Japan that you are visiting at this very moment?
We enter a very different space. A space we refer to as the now. We journey through a Japan over-saturated with stimuli and information, and turn our busy eye to reflect upon a culture that is torn between the past and the future. While new identities of the body, of love and intimacy, of technology, tradition and authority take shape, we find ourselves grappling to pin down a moment that we know will soon slip through our fingers. As we navigate through the complex system of a culture that constantly redefines itself, we finally find the beauty of this moment. The beauty of Japan in process.
From afar it seems easy to imagine Japan. Shrill and peaceful. Modern and traditional. Cute and harsh. Polite and loud. Yes but no. The distance of more than 9000 km between Austria and Japan is a simple tap on a phone, a round trip taking a mere instant in a dreamt up virtual space that is neither reality nor fiction. I don’t have to be in Japan to visit Japan and visiting Japan brings me a few steps closer while at the same time a few steps farther from understanding Japan. Confused? Welcome to Japan between reality and dream.
At last we have come to a turning point at which we must decide how to deal with the challenges in front of us. Menaced by natural and man-made disasters, Japan tries to understand itself and redefine its role in the world ahead. As technology and machines have forever altered the way in which we interact as human beings, how much and in what form do we reconnect with the physical world? How can we overcome our fears and truly move on to a better future? Fast forward to Japan in 202x.
Yama uses a fictional camera tracking shot to offer a view of the inside of a traditional Japanese home.
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The spaces you see in Yama are associated with a sense of home, familiarity and memory, and a collage of fragments of the various rooms in which the artist lived while in Japan.
To watch Yama is a revisiting of a reimagined space.
Words by Claudia Larcher
The series "Bōsōzoku" transports the viewer on a journey to Japan and renders the Japanese motorcycle counter culture Bōsōzoku, translating as ‘violent running tribe’. Bōsōzoku began in the fifties by a collection of frustrated youths from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds agitated by Japanese politics and to challenge the hegemony of the ruling class.
Youth culture is always about revolution and so is Bōsōzoku.
"Full of suspense an old hope draws me out into the world"
Roman Scheidl
Roman Scheidl's numerous diaries (more than sixty volumes since 1971 with more than fifteen thousand pages) are of astonishing richness and would be a good basis for reconstructing a productive life and the time that went with it.
Travels play no small role in Scheidl's diaries, some volumes are specially marked as "travel diaries". Like the one in which a visit to Japan for several weeks in 2003 is documented in words and pictures.
Words by Walter Titz, Graz 2019
A conservative private space consists of rooms to sleep, wash, eat, delight and store.
I sleep in public spaces. In the train, in the love hotel, in the capsule, in the anime cafe, book and bed, 9h hotel, or at the workplace. The bedroom is abolished.
The infrastructure of the so-called Konbini and affordable food in restaurants, fast-food restaurants and street food stalls is abundant and an integral part of Japanese everyday life and culture. The kitchen is abolished.
Bathing is carried out in public spaces. In so-called sentos. The bathroom is abolished.
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In the history of pre-modern Japanese housing the concept of puraibashii (privacy) was alien. Japanese households were ‘fluid’ spaces with virtually no privacy. The current situation in Tokyo allows for the emergence of a turbo-dense, capitalism-driven space generator for satisfying one’s personal longings and needs.
TheCityAsAHouse is a new strategy of dissolving one room after another. It is a liberation. We don’t have to own or pretend to have property anymore. It is a strategy of successfully surviving without being dependent on the housing market. It is a proposition of a new form of society. A new form of living. 
Words by Rebecca Merlic
Books stand as escape agents from an increasingly totalitarian society with its rising media consumption. In my work, antique books, which were often discarded for throwing away, become pieces of clothing for dissidents, shelters and portable sanctuaries of the intellect.
In the interest of the cultural layers of gender identity and how memories are discursively constructed through bodily tropes, I like to draw attention to the materiality of memories expressed in clothing structures.
Words by Anita Gratzer
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I started building a new instrument to cross the sonic limits of the arched zither. The instrument can be seen as an electronic, analog/digital extension, while the traditional possibilities of the more than 2000-year-old instrument are retained.
A central conceptual idea is to underline the importance of the past for the present and the future while offering a sonic language that was never heard before.
Words by Christoph Punzmann
“Japanese people aren’t intimate.”
“I don’t want to be considered as a girlfriend. It’s embarrassing; I don’t want to be seen in this way.”
We don’t say “No” in Japanese.
Maybe. I don’t know. It’s complicated. We’ll see. I would have to check. It’s difficult. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s complicated. We’ll see. I would have to check. It’s difficult. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s complicated. We’ll see. I would have to check. It’s difficult. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s complicated. We’ll see. I would have to check. It’s difficult. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s complicated. We’ll see. I would have to check. It’s difficult. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s complicated. We’ll see. I would have to check. It’s difficult. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s complicated. We’ll see. I would have to check.
It’s difficult.
“One night, we were out, in Shibuya, with some friends. Two friends of ours, a couple, were holding hands.”
She interrupts him:
“I was so embarrassed.”
“But why?”
“Because by doing that, they were excluding us, it was not about being together as a group anymore. It was them and us.”
Text excerpts from Tokyo Stories by Elodie Grethen
The area around a river in Tokyo is the scene of a strange phenomenon.
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Nationwide installed loudspeakers in the public area are intended to inform the urban population in the event of a disaster. But they are also used in everyday life, for example, to warn children before dusk to return home.
A voice speaking from "off" in public space has the bitter connotation of authoritarian systems or dictatorships and corresponds to the human bodies that act as mobilizers of the in - and deflating silver form.
Words by Katharina Gruzei
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In Austria, Japanese people are often perceived as a crowd of exotic tourists.
We know Japanese food, we know Japanese design. But what do we know about Japanese people? How do they think, what do they fear and how do they love?
Words by Julia Libiseller
My six-year-older brother was on tour in Japan with the "Wiener Sängerknaben"; because he was an exceptionally handsome boy, his Japanese fans wrote him many letters - actually a whole laundry basket full!
I was six years old, so I couldn't do much with love letters, but: with the beautiful stamps on the envelopes! My parents explained to me that these letters came to Austria by plane.
As a grown man I have not become a stamp collector, but: for me, Japan is still the country from which it rains wonderful stamps from the sky.
Words by Julius Werner Chromecek
Kaomoji (顔文字) is a popular Japanese emoticon style made up of Japanese characters and grammar punctuation that are used to express emotion in texting and cyber communication. Emoticons and Kaomojis are a brilliant way to communicate in a Japanese style from afar while building a digital highway across the ocean.
Words by Sarah Ortmeyer
In 2020 the world got shifted upside down.
What if one era, be it Heisei or Showa, would have continued, and 2020 as we know it never happened?
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Visiting Japan during the last weeks of the Heisei era, I sensed a strong confidence for the future Europe was completely lacking at the time. The time shift between Japan and Austria had never felt as big to me before. But then, just a year later, the two seemed almost in sync.
Set in a timeframe that does not exist, “Heisei 32” is asking questions about parallelisms and distances of time and place, exploring the in-between. Neither one nor the other. Neither past nor future, reality nor fiction.
Words by Therese Wagner
2006, 2020
My friend Kazuko Nakazuma, a Osaka/Japan-based fashion designer, is making cloth masks right now as an expression of the battle with Corona. In addition to wearing masks, there is currently a second important rule, a 1 m safety distance between people. So I decided to make drawings of a singular one meter long line.
Words by Wolfgang Seierl
Dear Friend, 

My friend Kazuko Nakazuma, a Osaka/Japan-based fashion designer, is making cloth masks right now as an expression of the battle with Corona. “I am determined to send masks to as many friends as possible. Because this is my way of fighting the virus, and to share that feeling with you,” she said.

Kazuko’s project inspired me to look at my personal way of acting. In addition to wearing masks, there is currently a second important rule, 1 m safety distance between people. So I decide to make drawings of a singular one meter long line and send them to as many friends as possible. In these “distance drawings” I explore the diversity and uniqueness of the required distance from other people. The distance between you and me is the distance from me to my world. That’s why I try to get this meter into a form that speaks, sings, dances, touches…

Wolfgang Seierl

Dear Wolfgang, 

Thank you for sending your artwork to fight this virus. In Japan, a person who cannot keep a distance (physically and psychologically) from others is called (Manuke). Ma is a distance. Nuke means to lose. So Manuke has the meaning of a fool. In mid-April, I sent out a CD with music compiled to relax for friends who had to stay home due to a virus. This is the only weapon I have to fight this virus. However, Austria and New Zealand refused the mail and could not send it to you.If it is canceled, I will send it again. (Maybe it’s late…) Once again, Thank you for sending the work. 

My best, 
Masahiro Takeda
A number of porcupines huddled together for warmth on a cold day in winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills, they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off by remaining at a little distance from one another.
In the same way the need of society drives the human porcupines together, only to be mutually repelled by the many prickly and disagreeable qualities of their nature. The moderate distance which they at last discover to be the only tolerable condition of intercourse, is the code of politeness and fine manners; and those who transgress it are roughly told—in the English phrase—to keep their distance. By this arrangement the mutual need of warmth is only very moderately satisfied; but then people do not get pricked. A man who has some heat in himself prefers to remain outside, where he will neither prick other people nor get pricked himself.
Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena, (1851)
The major employer in the city of Toyota in Aichi Prefecture is the Toyota car company. Its main manufacturing facilities are there, and 50% of its workers are robots.
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In Anna Witt’s three-channel video Unboxing the Future, discussions are intercut with a group of assembly-line workers smoothly miming the movements they perform at work and footage of symbiotic robotic arms at work on cars.
In a hierarchical inversion, the blue-collar workers teach the white-collar workers the movements to then perform in formation.
Words by Anna Witt
To which extent are we responsible for our actions for future generations?
The Monument of Time reminds us of the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, visualizing which effects it caused on mankind and nature, but also how vulnerable and strong nature can be. The contaminated area must be covered with concrete. The shape is based on a folded analogy of piling up tectonic plates, allowing flora and fauna to grow during thousands of years.
Arriving at the "Monument of Time“ focuses on one direction as the goal. At the end of the long ramp through a narrow slit you enter the reactor hall, filled with light.
As time is passing by, the concrete collapses with increasing vegetation. Initially bare and defined only by the triangular structure, it will later remain visible only as fragments.
Words by Daniel J. Derflinger
A strange pandemic / A stranded science fiction writer / A sequence haunted by lucid dreams, gentle speculations, and voices yet inaudible in the air. Rising sea levels represent a catastrophe in slow motion. In this fictional future world, ⽔位痕, suiikon, the scar left by water, will be embodied by those who chose to inhabit the ruins of these disturbed urban landscapes.
Words by Michael Vienne
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