I would like to introduce a VR work called Virtual Home Of Mementos.
The VR work Virtual Home Of Mementos was created by Seira Uchida, who calls himself a “vendor” in the post-Internet era. This work uses the motif of today’s rapidly changing digital readymades to explore new forms of communication and relies upon the culture and memories of modern people. We will unravel this work for you to enjoy.
- 1 Virtual Home Of Mementos Introduction Video
- 2 Work Capture
- 3 Statement of the work by the artist
- 4 Documentary about objects brought to life by VR
- 5 Works based on research of folk beliefs in Aomori
- 6 Development of Virtual Home Of Mementos
- 7 How to experience the VR scene
Virtual Home Of Mementos Introduction Video
Statement of the work by the artist
This is a Virtual Home Of Mementos. Here, objects filled with memories and emotions that cannot be discarded are preserved (i.e., are deposited as votive offerings). Virtual Home Of Mementos is a hall for safeguarding new folk beliefs in an age when memories and emotions are in danger of being set ablaze and meeting with others is forbidden.
Today, with the advent of filter bubbles and echo chambers, people avoid confiding their memories and feelings to those with whom they have different views, and, due to the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic, meeting strangers has become a taboo in itself. In addition, the patriarchal mindset and the family register system still persist in Japanese society, and there is a strong tendency for Japanese people to avoid showing their weaknesses to others and to keep them within their own family. In response to this situation, we have created a new folk belief group we call Virtual Home Of Mementos to offer a modern take on the ancient Jizo faith, and are seeking a new form of “relatives” and “home” where people can meet, care for, and coexist with others and encounter objects filled with memories and emotions.
Since this activity is a new folk belief, it will not only be presented as a work of art at exhibitions and installations, but will be developed as a socially functional entity. Information on Virtual Home Of Mementos reception system and the activities will be posted on https://sesseee.se/VMA/ from time to time.
Artist, Bender ｜Japan
Seira Uchida is a conceptual performance artist and researcher who calls herself a circuit bender in the post-Internet age and uses existing systems such as Amazon and YouTube, but with an approach that transforms the ordering of those circuits. She questions the values that permeate our daily lives and the ways with which we are given to use them.
Having moved to Tohoku, she has become interested in the connection between human desire and culture, and is researching and creating works on the contemporary state of this connection. She operates Virtual Beach, which explores the nature of contemporary folktales, and Margins Bookstore, which redefines and distributes old books with writing as “one-of-a-kind, valuable books” created by readers. Major exhibitions and projects include “TRANS BOOKS DOWNLOADs” (online) from 2020 and “SICF19 Winners Exhibition” (Spiral Hall, Tokyo) in 2019.
Documentary about objects brought to life by VR
Virtual Home Of Mementos is a place where “objects that cannot be thrown away and that are filled with memories and emotions are preserved (dedicated). Memories and episodes related to these objects are left by the donors, and their texts and voices are echoed in the VR space of Virtual Home Of Mementos.
The offerings, made virtual by photogrammetry, a technology that allows objects and topography to be preserved in 3DCG, float in the space inside the hall.
Virtual Home Of Mementos is not a documentary that directly describes anyone. However, the story behind a particular offering evokes images of people and families who have dealt with that offering, thus rendering and preserving contemporary Japan as a story about objects.
A ghostly presence found in what is offered
The objects that have been offered seem to have some kind of soul or still retain the warmth of their owner’s body.
This is due to the warmth of the objects created by effects such as the light of the location where they were photographed or the hand gestures of the photographer, as well as the spatial design through which the offerings seem to speak directly to the viewer.
It seems to be a contemporary expression of the Japanese value of “Hyakki Yagyo,” or finding spirituality in objects.
Works based on research of folk beliefs in Aomori
The perspective and sensibility of Virtual Home Of Mementos were conceived based on research into Japanese folk beliefs. The motif of this work is a doll offering at the doll hall of a Jizo temple called Kawakura Jizoson in Aomori Prefecture.
Kawakura Sainokawara Jizo is introduced on the Goshogawara City website as follows:
Kawakura Sainokawara Jizo is located on a small hill in the northeastern part of Ashino Park—a scenic spot—and like Osorezan on the Shimokita Peninsula, it is famous for the mediumship of itako (spiritual women).
According to legend, the Jizoson was first enshrined here several thousand years ago, when a mysterious lantern flew into the sky over the region and was found in a place illuminated by its light.
During the annual festival held from June 22 to 24 of the lunar calendar, the shrine is crowded with visitors from within and outside of the prefecture, and people can be seen shedding tears as they listen to the sorrowful kuchiyose (channeling) by itako.
Jizo (Jizo Bosatsu) are placed in cemeteries in Japan to make offerings to unborn children and water children, and are also placed on roads around towns to ward off evil spirits in a role similar to that of Dosojin (guardian deities of the roads).
According to Japanese beliefs, children who die before their parents must continue to pile up stones on the banks of the Sai no Kawa River at the Sanzu River. Jizo is believed to have saved these suffering children.
Furthermore, there is a unique belief in the Tsugaru Peninsula, where the custom of giving children and young people a partner when they are of marriageable age after their death is practiced, or having them perform “posthumous marriage.”
There is a theory that this custom was started to prevent the souls of the deceased from becoming possessed by spirits that have not lived a normal life, or to express the grief of the loss of their children and their feelings for them.
Virtual Home Of Mementos was created with these enshrined dolls and tools, as well as the wishes for memorial services that were put into them, as the starting point of the idea.
Uniqueness of Virtual Home Of Mementos
Virtual Home Of Mementosl seeks to provide care in situations in which physical contact and communication have become rare, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
By reviving the memories associated with the objects in virtual reality, visitors are drawn to multiple memories when they enter the space and are surrounded by the objects. One can feel as if they are traveling through the places and episodes where various memories were accumulated.
It evokes the traces of life that one feels when one opens a warehouse, barn, closet, or chest of drawers in Tohoku and encounters folk crafts accompanied by memories.
Virtual Home Of Mementos is a work unique to VR in that it takes the viewer somewhere new through communication with physical sensations that cannot be created on social networks.
This is exactly what Kunio Yanagida pointed out as the “psychic phenomenon” of ethnic material:
By the way, in thinking about “folklore” and “art,” it would be better to explain in advance what exactly “folklore” is that is the subject of “folklore studies.”
According to the proposed classification in the “Dictionary of Folklore” (edited by the Institute of Folklore Studies, 1951), based on Kunio Yanagida’s “Theory of Folklore” and “Research Methods of Local Life,” folk materials are divided into three categories: Part I – “Tangible Culture,” Part II – “Language and Art,” and Part III – “Psychic Phenomena.”
“Tangible culture” includes housing, clothing, fishing, forestry, agriculture, transportation, family, marriage, birth, funerals, annual events, and Shinto rituals; “language arts” includes naming, language, proverbs and riddles, folk songs, stories, folktales, and legends; and “psychic phenomena” include ghosts and monsters, signs, divination, prohibitions, curses, and folk medicine.
Development of Virtual Home Of Mementos
Since the release of Virtual Home Of Mementos, Seira has been developing performances using this work and other methods of dedication that are closely tied to the land.
Formal opening of Virtual Home Of Mementos
As a presentation of the Aomori residency’s program, a dance performance will be performed to open Virtual Home Of Mementos that will be viewed through VR goggles.
VR dance：Seira Uchida
Music：Kazuko Kitajo（Jomon Koto、Flute）, Ayumi Murakami (musical instrument, flute)
Venue：Aomori Contemporary Art Centre Aomori, Gallery B, Exhibition Building
Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Aomori Public University [ACAC].
Artist in Residence Program 2021
Virtual Dedication Tour – Mental Degeneration Edition
Fuji, a motif of the mountain belief of Tainai-meguri, a tour of the womb in the Mt. Fuji faith, and presented a work of dedicating a memento to Mt. Fuji.
This work is still on view at STYLY.
Fuji faith updated into a modern vision, an interactive artwork
Fuji has been revered as a mountain where God lives for more than 450 years. This has given rise to the “Mt. Fuji faith,” a mountain worship that reveres Mt. Fuji as a sacred mountain. The history of the “Fuji-ko,” a group of believers in the Mt. Fuji faith, is that they dedicated various items to commemorate and thank the gods for their accomplishment of ascending the mountain. In this tour, based on the history of the Mt. Fuji faith, artist Seira Uchida and the guesthouse of the priests, who are involved in Mt Fuji.
Event details (the event is closed)
Enjoy the unique VR experience of Virtual Home Of Mementos!
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