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“Breath or Echo” (reconstructed for the exhibition “Tribute to RYUICHI SAKAMOTO”) [2017/23]



“Breath or Echo” was created for and released during the Sapporo International Art Festival 2017 and inspired by MOHRI Yuko’s northward journey upstream from the mouth of the Ishikari River to Otoineppu in preparation for the same festival. MOHRI created this large-scale installation piece, which transformed into auditory performance phenomena of the piano, streetlights and other objects encountered on that journey in an old mining town—decayed yet still existing—that had been worn down and weathered by time and environment, and which left a vivid impression on her mind.

As the exhibition venue, she used the narrow, 100-meter-long space of Sapporo City University’s “Skyway” elevated walkway (designed by SEIKE Kiyoshi), through which visitors would move and experience the various objects placed therein, feedback noise, electromagnetic waves, bell reverberations, streetlight flickerings, automated performances by a modified piano, and recited poetry by SUNAZAWA Bikky. Moreover, visitors could experience fluctuations in sound—resulting from differing sound transmission velocities—due to their continuous transit through the space.

The installation’s title is based on Walter BENJAMIN’s “On the Concept of History,” and MOHRI encouraged visitors to listen to the remnants of messages from the past which linger in the present. The music was provided by SAKAMOTO Ryuichi. For this exhibition, revised works by MOHRI are exhibited (primarily those whose parts were performed by the automated piano), including “I/O” (2011–13) and “Brush” (2017).

Poetry for “Four Winds” by SUNAZAWA Bikky

You there, Wind
You are a beast with four heads and four legs
You are wild and violent and for that
Humans love the moments that come in your midst
These are called four seasons
Were it possible I would have you blow
The strongest of your winds
So, Wind, as you are
Four-headed and four-legged
I am thinking of sending you
Some lovely four-legged trousers
As a gift
And then, won’t you hold me tight, just once?

(English translation of the poetry by SUGA Keijiro)

SAKAMOTO Ryuichi and Camille NORMENT performed at this installation during the Sapporo International Art Festival 2017, and Felipe R. MARTÍNEZ recorded it on video to create “After the Echo,” which can be viewed in this theater.



List of Works