A series of six Talk Sessions were held after hours at the ICC 5th floor lobby in conjunction with the Portable Sacred Grounds--Telepresence World Exhibition. Moderated by Exhibition Supervisor ITOH Toshiharu together with participating artist and Screenings Director MINATO Chihiro, each session invited one or two guests to discuss various different topics related to "telepresence." Such diverse perspectives served to flesh out ITOH's premise that "telepresence technologies are psychic technologies," bringing into clear focus "here" and "there" by the mental technology of "imagination." A record 1,000 persons--mainly in their twenties--attended.
1) "Imagination = image + magic" (May 7th)
Guest: Joan FONTCUBERTA (Photographer)
Holding up the medium of photography for reappraisal in its essential "distant-made-here-and-now" telepresence, Catalan photographer FONTCUBERTA, known for his images of forged flora and fauna, made a comprehensive slide presentation of his entire career from the earliest works to his latest project <<SPUTNIK>>. The overall panorama of his many works playing upon the ambiguity of photography's veracity and illusion provided singularly impressive evidence of the artist's own axiom, "imagination = image + magic."
2) "Bewitching Sound and Light" (May 21st)
Guest: IMAFUKU Ryuta (Anthropologist)
Triggered by IMAFUKU's remark that "Spiritual possession is itself the shaping of connective circuits to the external world, indicative only of relationship, not of subject-being," discussion focused on how systems of possession might link and adapt to media technologies in contemporary society. IMAFUKU cited Chicano artist Guillermo GÓEZ-PENA's CATV wave-jacking performance brilliantly appropriating the "television-as-altar," while MINATO cited Brion GYSIN's <<Dream Machine>> as a precursor to today's video drug and "Pocket Monster" phenomena.
3) "Doppelg&aulm;ger and Correspondence" (May 28th)
Guests: UNO Kuni'ichi (French literary scholar), TOSHIMA Shigeyuki (Clinical psychiatrist)
Topics ranged from schizophrenia and theater, to ARTAUD, the body and doppelg&aulm;ger. TOSHIMA showed a videotape performance of his own Molecular Theater, accompanying it with his own unique commentary. According to him, as the analyst (aliéné) diagnoses the patient (aliéiste--noting the patient's perceptual reports, auditory hallucinations and leakage of self, he would gradually come to be confused, amidst the patient's terrifyingly excessive outcries, of whether he was hearing or writing. It was interesting to note that TOSHIMA's theater pieces likewise were strongly corporeal. UNO linked this to ARTAUD's body-art, quoting him that "The body without organs is a battlefield open to erosion."
4) "Future Sacred Grounds" (June 4th)
Guests: UESHIMA Keiji (Religio-anthropologist), SAWARAGI Noi (Art critic)
UESHIMA held forth Jerusalem and Le Puy as examples of the "non-portable sanctuary," noting that many sacred sites have remained holy even as the religion practiced thereupon changed from one tradition to another. On the other hand, ITOH expanded, churingas and mandalas as portable sanctuary exemplify the essence of the structure of image. MINATO's visuals of Ayer's Rock petroglyphs and SAWARAGI's positing rock concerts as a contemporary form of holy pilgrimage, with the physical nature of rocking and rolling closely paralleling the rituals of the Shakers, argued for new investigations into what constitutes and links sacred sites.
5) "Migration and Myth" (June 11th)
Guests: DAN Keisuke (Novelist/translator), NISHITANI Osamu (French literary scholar)
NISHITANI pointed out how Lafcadio HEARN, through his travels from Martinique to Matsu$B;
(J always stayed closely bound to "ghostly" territory. In their primal form, "ghosts" manifest the "other" world as presumed to be observed by the living--the very image of telepresence. Moreover, referring to Hindu sacrificial rituals that NISHITANI photographed in Martinique, he observed that mythical spaces emerge in visible interfaces on the continuum between "this world" and "the other world." Apropos of such "porous" continuity between "here" and "there," DAN cited Salvador DA BAHIA and TANGIER, then furthered the analogy to the "porous mediator" William S. BURROUGHS, Jr.'s auto-dictation method as literary trance.
6) "Neo-Shamanism" (June 18th)
Guests: NAKAZAWA Shin'ichi (Religious scholar), HOSONO Haruomi (Musician)
"Sacred sites are peculiar spots in this world where the distant manifests large as life. Which is also the characteristic of telephone and radio, indeed of all telepresence technologies. The eradication of distance gives rise to sound technologies." (NAKAZAWA) The discussion moved from the shaman's journey that serves to hinge "this world" and "the other world," to memory and music, to the promise of a new "extase culture" to be opened up by today's media technologies. HOSONO approached the tangents of telepresence from a musical angle, presenting his own travels with Native Americans, sonic expression that transcends the bounds of media. Other topics included the shaman's drum, ritual vs. artistic voice, and the relationship between mural painting and acoustics in caves. (vis. pp.168-179)