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Koji Setoh "Global Windchimes Project", 1999-


“Global Windchimes Project” by Kohji Setoh is located in the areas of telematic art and global awareness art. Two wind chimes with different chords are hung in two different cities, in Tokyo and on the other side of the Pacific ocean in Los Angeles. Each one is filmed by a video camera and the live video is streamed to a server. Visitors can access the piece only via a website. Only when the wind is blowing at both locations they can experience the question and answer motive that the two chords create. The piece raises an awareness for global distances and the different continental weather conditions. And, paradoxically, can only be experienced with a web browser on the Internet. Here is conneced simultaneously to two theres.

Areas: Telematic art, global consciousness, the senses, natural processes, physical world, non-dialogical

Image: by K.Setoh

Kohji Setoh is a Tokyo-based artist, researcher and DJ with a background in computer music and media art. In 1999, Setoh created a web-based sound project called, “Global Wind Chimes Project”1 which involved two wind chimes hanging in university campus locations - one in Tokyo, the other in Los Angeles. Both chimes were tuned to different tonal chords and were hanging outdoors.
At both locations a fixed video camera continuously filmed the chimes as they reacted to the wind. The resulting audio-video streams of both chimes could then be accessed via the project website all over the world. Visitors of the “Global Wind Chimes Project” would open two windows on their screen, one showing the live stream from Tokyo and the other from Los Angeles. As the wind blew at both locations across the pacific, the chimes sounded together in harmony, forming a global soundscape.

Setoh’s work is about identity and locality and engages us on multiple layers concerning issues such as globalisation, telematic technologies and the idea of an independent observer.
Technology, the Internet and telematics form the basis for this piece. Its telematic near real-time characteristics contradict our regular perception of the world as it simultaneously connects us with two remote places - while we remain in our local space. Physically we are located here, yet our senses receive sounds and visuals from two distant locations in different time zones. Becoming aware of the aliveness of the work, induces a deeper susceptibility for the experience.
What may be lost in this work through technical means, which contradict our sense of time and space, is counterbalanced with the creation of a poetic gesture of remembrance towards the natural process and a feeling of global connectedness. Additionally, while technology and the Internet are the facilitators of globalisation and its controversial effects such as the ever increasing the speed of information distribution or the migration of work, “Global Wind Chimes Project” uses these very same technologies to show their intrinsic “saving powers” and harmonising capabilities.

Each remote location contributes its individual characteristic to the telematic experience which is represented by the wind chime. Its identity, the tonal quality of its sound, and its locality determined by its weather conditions, form an essential and intrinsic part of the whole. The individual local wind chime is complete in itself, yet together they constitute a larger system; creating a gestalt effect in which the whole is more then the sum of its parts. By juxtaposing one locality with another locality the work emphasises their uniqueness and difference. This contrast enables the visitor to become aware of their individual distinct character, their individual identity and diversity. Every entity is a unique, autonomous and necessary part of the whole picture.
The visitor accesses the work as an observer, but plays a crucial role in the works creation. The work depends on the visitors participation. It is their visit to the project website that creates the conjunction between the two remote wind chimes. It is here at this third locality, and only here, where it is possible for the two different tonal chords to sound together in harmony. When the observer is becoming the crucial part of this system, we recognise that there is no such thing as an independent observer. The harmonic sound between Los Angeles and Tokyo can only come into existence when the observer participates.
The natural processes wind and sound create the basis for this piece. It is not interactive, the visitor remains passive after bringing the piece into existence. This leaves space for contemplation and an inner awareness of the telematic harmonies which form the intrinsic qualities of the artwork.

Here, there: Transformation and Spatiality: “Global Wind Chimes Project.” Two Windows containing live-video are visible on the screen. The sound of the two mixes emenating through the loudspeakers.

Telematics disrupting our perception of space. The observer actually creates the piece by her or his presence, visiting the website. “Here” in the local space is the only place where it can come into existence.

Since the 1980s artists have created pieces that used live video connections between remote locations, among the better known “Hole in Space” 2 by Galloway and Rabinowitz, a “Public Communication Sculpture” connecting New York City and Los Angeles. Another piece, “Hole in the earth” 3 by Ueda connecting Bandung and Rotterdam and also “Global Village Square” 4 by deKerkhove, a project that remained in its conceptual stage, attempting to connect traditional markets and shopping malls in several different cities worldwide with each other.

These projects use similar principles and technical set-ups, yet they create fundamentally different experiences. Essentially they all are about communication and dialogue, connecting people to people. This redefines their artistic meaning from being telematic art which draws upon distance, place, synchronicity and an internal awareness to something different. By connecting people to people and thus facilitating a dialogue, they effectively become communication art, where the process of communication becomes the work itself.
“Global Wind Chimes Project” with its telematic art characteristics is a slow and meditative project. It creates a contemplative awareness, an inner experience, creating space for a critical distance and reflection.

Links:

http://www.gnusic.net/~setoh/flow10/more.html

Notes:

1. The documentation of the original version of the Global Wind Chimes Project can be found here http://www.floweb.org/works/windchimes/index.html while a current version is available here http://www.floweb.org/beijing/
2. "Hole in Space" is documented on video. An online documentation can be found here: http://www.ecafe.com/getty/HIS/
3. The antipode telematic media art project "Hole in the Earth:" http://www.ueda.nl/earth/index.html
4. Some sparse information about "Global Village Square" at the McLuhan institute in Toronto: http://www.utoronto.ca/mcluhan/research_currprojects.htm

last update: 1/7/02008 0:53

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