Process

8. 8.13

Lee has left us today. He’s flown back a day early.

What I have found most interesting about this project is not so much the sharing of disciplinary approaches – although that has certainly been enlightening and provocative – but rather that the experience of fieldwork, the doing, the experiment, that we all engaged in on Hashima island a week or so ago, has now come to exist as a kind of collective memory – a membrane – that connects, corrects and keeps evolving (see the Performance Research edition On Fieldwork, eds Daniels, Pearson, Roms)

I was tempted to write ‘self-regulating’ above, but that would have been a mistake, for to use such a word would imply that there was an endpoint, a balance to the process, a moment of pure homeostasis or regulatory autopoesis. On the contrary, everything appears unpredictable, chancy, contingent, disruptive, dependent on an uncontrollable outside.

In this respect, my experience of Hashima is indissociable from the play, or rather the eruption, of involuntary memory – a type of memory that is occasioned, ostensibly, by luck. Who can tell what encounter will allow such a memory to emerge? Indeed it could be said that Hashima is like a ruin, a shipwreck in my own mind, an image that has been covered over and hidden by subsequent waves of perception and sensation. The only way to reveal the ruined shipwreck,  is through an involuntary shock of some sort or other. We could also see this in terms of being touched.

Importantly – and here I borrow from Gaston Bachelard as well as the German choreographer Michael Klien – this shock, this touch, is always material, a matter of matter, so to speak. The more intense the feeling, the more acute the memory.

Here in the Kyu-Shiba-Rikyu Gardens in an unfashionable and largely banal district of Tokyo, the sculpted shapes and theatrical placements of water, trees and stones produce a different type of thinking, a green wind thinking.

And as things slow….I start to remember Hashima….to reflect on it, to take it somewhere else, to take it on a journey with me.

Now I know – at least for the moment – why I was always interested in responding to Hashima as a phantom, and not simply as a ghost. For where the ghost ties us to human history, the phantom is conjured by an encounter with matter, which, in turn, produces a virtuality that points towards a new horizon, an horizon allows us to get beyond the ‘permanence’ of the ruin, its staggered but redemptive temporality, and instead to practise a different future in the now.

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