My Basics – where I am from
Every single person has an original story of their own life. Even siblings of similar ages in the exact same family have different stories to tell, because they are different people, have different personalities, different emotions, and different points of views. Building our own story of life reflects how we see the world. In that way, I would say each of us has our own understanding of how the world is.
When I was little, I believed the winter ocean turned white because it was covered with ice and snow. That is the kind of ocean I saw growing up. Of course at some point, I understood it was a very unique phenomenon of nature that we could only experience at a few very special places in the world, and my home was located at the most southern part of the earth for it. Later I also learned that this sea-ice brings nutritious and tasty seafood to our small town.
When I grew up, I told one of my city-friends that many of my friends in my hometown are fishermen. She was surprised because she had never met a fisherman in person. She has never thought of having fisherman friends. It was so honest of her that she accepted the fact that she has never really imagined fisherman in reality even though she thought she knew there are people who fish and deliver it to the market, so we can purchase and eat it at home. Without actual experience, it is difficult to accept reality and take things seriously.
Regardless of knowing, the environment we live in has such an impact on our lives and thoughts. It could have appeared as ignorance sometimes but also we could turn it into value. Let me talk a little bit about how I have been seeing the world.
I grew up in a family that ran a local newspaper company in the small town that my grandfather started right after World War II. When I was twelve years old, my grandfather had a stroke and my family needed to make a big decision on how to keep running the business. Even though my father was in charge of running a few sports equipment shops, he decided to give up on those shops and to focus on the newspaper. My father told me that newspapers could support many other shops and save our community.
Five years later, my father needed to make another big decision. The company had a great opportunity to buy an editing machine for an incredibly great deal. It was an offer from a small printing company that recently decided to close their business. After about a week or so, my father decided not to take it because if he bought the machine, the editor in chief would lose his job.
The editor in chief had been working since the company started and supported the founder, my grandfather, for the entire time. As a result of my father’s decision, he worked another five years happily until his retirement. I was seventeen years old back then, and felt my father was too naive to run a business.
About another ten years later, the company had its 40th anniversary. The former editor in chief contributed a great article full of love and respect to the people, company, and community. It was a great anniversary issue. However, before meeting its 50th anniversary, my father made his biggest decision in his career by giving up the business and stopping the paper.
My hometown had lost about a half of its population in the last twenty years, and most of the businesses in town were already out. Yes, I was right. My father was not a smart businessperson. But, if he were more profit-centered, was there any possibility that things would’ve been better? Maybe he would have been able to keep the company just a little longer, but most likely the result wouldn't have been much different. No one could have stopped the population from dropping or save all the small shops from going out of business. It has been happening not only in my hometown, but everywhere except a few big cities in Japan. Based on data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in Japan, our population will keep shrinking, and we will lose 33milion people by 2050 in comparison to 2005.
Ever since then, I have not stopped wondering about the newspaper's value to us, to the community, and to society. It is a reality that father failed his business towards the end, but that is not everything either. He was able to make people work happily for quite a long time, and the company had served the community as long as it needed. Then, my father’s decision not to buy a machine but save the long-time employee seemed a pretty good decision. Now, I respect my father as a community leader, coordinating all the employees' next jobs and taking care of each person’s life over the company's profit.
What I have learnt through my life so far is there are so many different points of view in seeing one exact same subject, and perspectives that could help our lives and sometimes even rescue us from pain. We can learn those perspectives from history, cultures, communities, and from our families and each other. In my creative practice, I would like to present diverse points of views, so their value, forms, or/and occurrences are more noticeable. I believe that we don’t pay enough attention to so many things and are missing out on something important all the time. Even though people sometimes find new perspectives or different interpretations, we still don’t have the tools to share with others rather than maybe posting personal SNS. Making those invisible values into something noticeable is my challenge in Art and Social Practice.