• The Liminal Space - Report: Seira Uchida 

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    Posted: 12 February 2021

    Art Residency The Liminal Space

    Report by Seira Uchida

    For me, liminal space is a gradation between private and public, virtual and physical. The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed a rapid transition to the virtual world, confining our bodies to the private spaces of our homes. Yet, especially as someone living in the countryside of Japan, I have the sensation that I am emotionally, and, at least with my face, physically, more actively entering into public spaces through participating in virtual events and such. At the same time, I do feel that the inequality I didn’t see before, between the city and countryside, when it comes to opportunities for learning or connecting, has been exposed.

    As quarantine measures prohibit us from physically gathering in one space, we’ve seen globally that online spaces and game spaces have been utilized for protests. We’ve also seen virtual cities that mimic actual cities popping up on games such as Minecraft and Animal Crossing where players have held virtual parties. I believe this indicates that the borderline between “online” and “offline” have become very ambiguous in our post-internet era, as well as the fact that game spaces aren’t simply a parallel world, but that people are incorporating it into their daily lives as a type or extension of reality itself.

    My idea is to use this situation to research and create intimate spaces. I’m especially interested in how we share emotions. This is because approaches that prioritize information or theory neglect core human traits such as motivation, fear, hope, and desire , and I feel that art can somehow engage with the emotional division caused by filter bubbles and echo chambers. By the retelling or breaking down of grand narratives through artworks of the past and telling those stories through a personal perspective, and using methodologies of folklore or fables, my plan is to research and create prototypes of work that develops into VR or game formats.

    My present research plan has changed from what it was initially, specifically my interest in fundamental social structures. By getting to know a different culture through this program, I wanted to process my thoughts and discomfort with the Japanese family system. I think I was empowered to do so by many factors: the “Bank of Care” project by Teresa Feldmann, the other artist in this residency program, and “Brainwave Wedding Lab,” a program that creates rings out of brainwaves that occur during a kiss; the ambitious ideas and efforts put out by Baltan Laboratories with which I wouldn’t have otherwise come into contact in Japan; and AIT’s supportive attitude that allows the artist to deepen their questioning.

    Teresa and I have had a few Zoom sessions together with Baltan Laboratories and AIT. One time she told me about her research on “herstory” as a counter notion to history. After that, I was looking at a picture book that was part of my research, and I saw the word “Herstory” on the cover of the original book. This strange coincidence suggests that there is the possibility for some kind of collaborative research.

    Going forward, I think there’s room to experiment with communication methods beyond Zoom and email, such as conducting field work through the game Animal Crossing, and other experimental methods that make use of the online residency format. During this short residency period, it would be exciting to find ways to convert the various limitations into new ways of documentation and collaborate on the experimental aspects of the residency.


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