ARAKAWA Shusaku / Madeline GINS's
In conjunction with the ARAKAWA/GINS's exhibition two films, áWhy Not (A Serenade of Eschatological Ecology)â (1969, 110 mins) and áFor Example (A Critique of Never)â (1971, 95 mins) pro-duced by the artists around the same peri-od as áThe Mechanism of Meaningâ series, were screened at the ICC Theater, at a long interval of 27 years in Japan.
In áWhy Not (A Serenade of Eschatological Ecology)â one is reminded of Marcel DUCHAMPS for the use of a bicycle and a door. But according to ARAKAWA, "DUCHAMPS has nothing to do with it." Rather, he emphasized, "This film is attempting to create imitation."
This seemingly cryptic statement is made clear as we watch the heroine, sitting on a table, attempt to trace its rim with her finger, try walking on her hands with her feet up on a chair, or dive under a sofa to suffer its weight--all attempts at imitating those objects. We find a key to the work in how ARAKAWA explains their architectural oeu-vre--by giving the example of how a long-term resident becomes nostalgic about the walls of his home, and this nostalgia, car-rying on in his place even after death, becomes a space for a new life to be born--we find the same intimate and fresh atmos-phere pervades their films.
Yet towards the end of the work, right after the scene where the door repetitively opens and closes, we find the heroine in a mys-terious scene implicit of death. Someone's hand (a metaphor for "the author's hand"?) opens and closes her hands and her eyes by the commands "Open"/"Close" and "Up"/"Down." This "Open/Close" which occurs at the border between life and death reminds one of "cleaving," a concept about life which the pair discussed in one of their books, Pour ne pas mourir/To Not to Die. Hence, the door hinge in this film is an imi-tation of the reversibility of destiny of life and death, both for the heroine and ARAKAWA/GINS.
The other piece, áFor Example (A Critique of Never)â is, according to their manuscript, "A Melodrama Derived from áThe Mechanism of Meaningâ", in which a young street vagrant is doing experimental psy-chology. The protagonist walks along the sidewalk as though dividing it into rectan-gles and circles, mimics the movements of a drunken man and practices peculiar skills with playground equipment--which are physical explorations for a new arena for meta-levelled meanings (or semantics) in these banal spaces. Yet, such street experiments are never easy. He nearly gets punched by the drunk, glared at by a child on the next swing for casually giving him a push and rebuffed by a passerby when he tries to grab the man's hand.
Near the end of this tale of experiments we come to the climactic scene where the pro-tagonist hurls himself repeatedly against the four thick glass walls of a telephone box. Finally he crawls out, bearing the pain and injury, while the glass remains unaf-fected. This persistent act of hurling against the glass--a metaphor for homo-geneous space--arouses a vivid physical sensation in the viewer, a new form of per-ception.
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