As the crows fly...

Posted Nov. 12, 2018 by Nik Gaffney and Maja Kuzmanović

As part of our ongoing exploration of animist-inspired practices in the shadow of climate chaos, we've found Japan particularly resonant. It's one of the few places where a hyper-modern technological society co-exists with tradition and reverence for nature. So it is not surprising that we can find cultural continuity between animism and anime, totems and tamagochi, ocean worship and tentacle porn, adoration of cherry-blossoms or autumn leaves in urban parks and online games alike.

During November and December, we'll be in Japan to further explore our strong resonances with its landscapes and (sub)cultures. We intend to follow old paths and new avenues alike, as a practice of listening, noticing and distilling our experience into soundscapes. Whether immersing ourselves in the buzz of metropolitan Tokyo, the sprawl of Keihanshin, or the ancient passes of the Kumano Kodo, we're exploring how to relate to an animate world inseparable from humans.

As in any fieldtrip, we're open to unexpected synchronicities, inspiration and diversions. We're especially interested in encountering people, places and situations that draw faint or blurred lines between the "natural" and "artificial". Shinto rituals, for example, that invoke kami (a spirit or life-force) in landscapes, elements, living beings and dead ancestors, assembly lines, cars and computers. Technologies that are seen as much "of nature" as a human or a mountain or a tsunami.

Whether or not animated by kami, the seemingly serene Japanese landscapes are governed by natural forces with radically unpredictable effects. We are curious to explore how the imminence of natural disasters influences contemporary culture in this geologically active region. Because, no matter where we live, we may have no choice but to become more closely acquainted with the many faces of nature beyond our control.

Yet, by meticulously looking at a single tree here before us now, the word tree we had, together with the concept and meaning it held, is slowly forced to disintegrate. —Nakahira Takuma