Postcard from Tokyo

Team Leader Sophia Remolde shares discoveries from Japan

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Briefly introduce yourself and your team. 

こんにちは。Sophia here: Team Leader for Japan. Team Japan includes: Miyu Leilani, Dominique Baron-Bonarjee, Jyana Browne, Tokyo Circus Ringmaster Yoshi, John J.A. Jannone, and The Night Bears (夜熊). We are all artists, performers, scholars, technologists, and nomads, in one form or another. You may even be a part of our team and not yet know it.

How did your team approach the topic of overpopulation?

We approached the topic mainly through the choice to be in Japan right now. We started by connecting with each other as human beings, sharing common and not-so-common ideas and ideals. We went out into Tokyo and outside of Tokyo. We went to festivals, performances, and parks. We ate taiyaki and takoyaki while sharing our struggles and our successes. We visited with family, met people who we thought were strangers, and discovered that things are stranger than we could have ever imagined. And we communicated with each other, A LOT. Influenced by philosophies of the Technological Singularity, Buddhism, and Butoh, we listened to the world around us, as we tried to articulate how we felt about it all.

In this race for technological advancement and honoring the natural cycles of life, we wondered: is there really a problem at all?

How did your environment or location influence your work?

Japan is an almost unbelievable place. It manages to retain such an ancient history, while also existing at the forefront of the new and absurd. It is one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world and people’s relationship to it (and thus each other) is really specific. 

One of the biggest influences on me is that the Japanese believe that everything has a 気 — otherwise known as ki, qi, or chi. However you want to write it or define it, it refers to the concept that all things have a 気. I feel like it is really hard to be in Japan and not sense its presence. So if every single thing has a spirit or energy, then what actually makes us different from one thing to the next? It made me start to listen to everything, to breathe with the world instead of trying to make something of it.

How did the other EARTH teams around the globe influence your work?

While I didn't necessarily understand in a cognitive way what the other EARTH teams were making, knowing that we were all in this together, all attempting to do something that might be good for our planet and our selves, gave me tremendous faith and trust in the process. Jeremy’s gentle guidelines provided both freedom and structure that created a really important balance in space. It allowed me to do the work without doing the work (something that the Western-influenced part of my brain sometimes struggles with). Through this process perhaps we started to understand what exactly the work is. And we’ll keep going and trying to figure it out in this way, or in another way. But either way, it will be together.