In May 2012 I visited Japan as part of a MayMay / Rauelsson tour organized by flau. It was my first time in Japan. Wandering around Tokyo, out of curiosity, I went into an antique shop that had a window display full of small anchors and things that seemed drawn from old sailing ships. The shop was a labyrinth of dusty things; piles of furniture, paintings, radios, postcards, jewelry, kitchen utensils, etc. There I met Haruto, its owner. He was a very friendly middle-aged man who moved quite slowly around his shop. He did not speak any language that I could understand, but he was kind enough to type whatever he wanted to say on his phone and then show me the translated text. He had a small section of framed photos, where I saw a few cardboard boxes filled with disposable cameras. He told me that he had bought those at an auction in 1990. He also showed me a small setup that he used to transfer film to digital with a projector. I really liked the black and white prints that he showed me as samples of his method. He was gentle and a bit apologetic. Apparently, he had sold a number of those cameras before, and not all of them had worked. The idea of not knowing what I could get out of them didn’t bother me too much, so I left Haruto’s place with a few of those cameras. I used them for two weeks, traveling by train around the country. Back in Tokyo I returned to the shop and gave him my email, postal address and the cameras. I was leaving the country the next day, so I had no time to wait for his film transfer. I emailed Haruto a few times once I got home, but I got no response. I tried to find his place on the internet to see if I could give him a call but I could not find anything. A whole year went by. Much to my surprise, one day I received a well-wrapped package that contained a CD-R; no letter, no words, no film, just an envelope with a CD-R. The disk had a total of 117 photos. What an unexpected present! They truly made me revisit my memories of that trip; places, sounds, the wonderful hospitality, the wonders of miscommunication, all came back to me vividly. I felt that I had to do something with those images.
I went back to Japan in April 2014, this time with Erik K Skodvin, Otto A Totland, and Monique Recknagel. Being back in Japan helped me realize that my memories of the place were as much formed by those photos as by what my senses captured and stored from the so-called real world. Memories upon memories, I felt very connected to the place again. One day, on our way to Nara, I picked up one of those complimentary magazines that you can find on trains. There was a small section in English about the different meanings that the word echo has in Japanese. I learned that there are up to nine different written forms for that concept, with meanings that include reverberation, empathy, influence, compassion, ring, rumble, spirit of a mountain, spirit of a tree, and memory. That day, thinking about echoes and memories, I made a selection of 100 of all the photos I got from Haruto. I also started collecting some sounds; field recordings and some piano melodies played during soundchecks. Somehow, I was already thinking that I wanted to add sound to those images. The idea of sharing these photos with accompanying music, however, did not materialize until November of the same year, when I had the opportunity to show this project in the form of a month-long exhibition that took place at La Seu de la Ciutat de la Universitat Jaume I (Llotja del Cànem) in Castellón, Spain. This exhibition will be shown again in May 2016 as part of Imaginària, Fotografía en Primavera 2016 in Benicàssim (Sala Escena, Teatre Municipal).
I want to thank Andrew Neerman, Peter Broderick and Bijan Berahimi for their support and help in creating something tangible associated with this project beyond this website. On May 12th Beacon Sound will release a 45 rpm 10” vinyl record with two songs. These two songs were done at The Sparkle with Peter, loosely based on the two 25-min long pieces that accompanied the photo exhibition. The record (limited to 300 copies) comes with two risograph prints of selected photos, a postcard, and a coupon to download both the vinyl and exhibition versions of the songs. Also, a postcard set box containing 12 postcards (limited to 100 copies) will be available to those that buy the record. You can find a link to Beacon Sound here.
Thank you Stumptown Printers for the wonderful material, Rob Jones for your talent in silk-screening album jackets and postcard set boxes, and Lentejas Press Studio for all the risograph prints. Also, big thanks to Yasuhiko Fukuzono, Laurel Simmons, Mayte Esbrí, Curro Esbrí, Mariano Spina, Jose Maestro, Adam Selzer, Nicholas Marshall, Amy Bernstein, Félix Gimeno, Sergio Ibañez, Haruto A Kaneko and all the wonderful promoters, venues and people that made touring Japan so special.
Thank you for visiting,
Raúl Pastor Medall, Japan, May – June 2012
Disposable camera, slide reversal utsurun-desu film treatment and digitalization by Haruto A Kaneko, Tokyo, 2013
Field recordings and instruments recorded in Japan, May – June 2012, at home in Benicàssim ES and Portland OR, and at The Sparkle, Woods OR, October 2014 – February 2015
Celesta, guitar, marimba, melodica, percussion, piano, pump organ, synthesizer and voice by Raúl Pastor Medall
Bass, celesta, guitar, percussion, synthesizer, violin and voice by Peter Broderick
Vinyl versions mixed by Peter Broderick, The Sparkle, March 2015 and mastered by Carl Saff, Chicago IL, March 2015
Lacquer mastercut by Adam Gonsalves, Telegraph Audio Mastering, Portland OR, April 2015
Extended versions mixed by Raúl Pastor Medall and Adam Selzer, Mix Foundry, Portland OR, October 2015 and mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri, Black Knoll Studio, North Salem NY, October 2015