Residency Program

International Creator Residency Program

update: 2023.10.12


Participating ProjectInternational Creator Residency Program
Activity BasedLeeds, United Kingdom
City / Place stayedTokyo
Period 2023.5 - 2023.7
Purpose of the residency

I aim to work with experimental video documentation to explore animist belief systems - where nonhuman nature is imbued with personhood. I will examine various aspects of city life where entanglements are most evident, to advocate for a re-emergence of animist belief systems as a way to understand our ecological entanglements going into the future.

An animist framing of the world is important in an eco-centric future, as it attributes intrinsic value and determination to the more-than-human world outside their use to humans.

I aim for this work to be screened in situ at sites relevant to this interplay.

Plan during the residency
  • Researching contemporary and classical animism, in both a Japanese and Western context.
  • Researching ecological concerns and entanglements within the city.
  • Researching the local ecology and their application in alternative photographic processes, such as local plants for developing moving image.
  • Creating experimental video works reflecting this research.
  • Leading discussions and teaching workshops on the themes of the work, and sustainable techniques employed.
Activities during the residency

-Researched the general theme of animism in historic and contemporary Japan.
-Narrowed the research to Kitsune (fox) mythology throughout Japanese history.
-Met and interviewed two professors at Kokugakuin University, specifically Erik Schicketanz and Koji Suga on the themes of my project.
-Visited multiple Inari shrines across Tokyo for documentation and research, as well as in Kyoto and Osaka. Found specific interest in Yukinariinari Shrine, Koto City, due to its seemingly abandoned nature.
-Visited the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken), Kyoto, exploring their library collection in reference to the themes of my project.
-Visited Herb Chikura, in Minamiboso, Chiba, to research Japanese plants and herbs that would be effective in my alternative photo processes. Also discussed with the owner about her relationship to animist beliefs and visited an abandoned mountain shrine.
-Met with psychology researcher Koki Ikeda, Research Fellow of Meiji Gakuin University, to discuss the history of Kitsune in relation to the Japanese psyche.
-Met with Akira Otsubo of Wako University, and conducted a workshop in plant-based film developing for her students, as well as meeting and having informal discussion on the cyanotype process with printmaking students.
-Met with Soni Kum at Meiji University to give a presentation of my work and my residency at TOKAS.
-Met with the representative of Moriki paper to consider the use of Washi in my projects, and spoke to him about future residency opportunities in the Washi production houses.
-Following research on plants, I used both Hakobe (Chickweed) and Yomogi (Japanese Mugwort), in alternative photographic processes such as the development of 8mm footage. Both due to their ritual significance, Chickweed in Nanakusa-no-sekku, and Yomogi in Ainu rituals.
-Led two workshops at TOKAS for both residents and local Japanese artists.
-Created a short test animation and numerous print-based works on the Kitsune theme.
-Visited Hokkaido for the domesticated foxes and history of Kitsune worship.
-Reached out to shrine priests that practice ecological conservation.
-Attended a Sogetsu foundation Ikebana class.
-Visited The Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage and spoke with the director of the museum, with specific interest in the firebombing of Tokyo.

2023, Polaroid Emulsion Lift/Cyanotype, A5

2023, Cyanotype Toned with Yomogi, Shrine Paper

2023, Butterfly Pea Anthotype, A5

2023, Cyanotype, A6

2023, Cyanotypes on Waste, Various

2023, Cyanotype on Waste, Various

Outcome of the residency

-Successfully researched effective Japanese plants for alternative photo processes, specifically Yomogi as being highly effective and also abundant as a wild plant within the city.
-Taught local students on sustainable photo processes, some of which are still utilising today due to their interest, as well as another student making a film for one of their final projects based on my own techniques of filmmaking.
-Connected with professors at Kokugakuin with whom I am now friends and will continue to liaise with during the extension of my research and creation for the final show next year.
-Created a variety of print based and test-animation/8mm video works using both waste generated at the residency and traditional Japanese crafts (e.g. Washi paper).
-Created a lasting connection with Ms. Sasaki, the owner of Herb Chikura with continued insight into her knowledge of plants for the future of my project. I personally valued meeting with her, and discussing our shared interest in plants as both utility and their spiritual and healing significance. I was fascinated to hear her ideas on ecology as spirit and her notion of ecological rebirth, and visit her woven spiral structure that she felt represented the womb of nature. In addition, the mountain shrine near to her home was particularly inspiring.
-Future outlook is mostly based on the realisation of the next stages of my installation, in particular the continued research of my kitsune video and the sculptural elements I wish to employ. This will also include the cultivation of Yomogi in the UK for use in the project, and the collaboration with two UK-based sculptors for a ceramic/neon work for 2024.
-Has strengthened my interest in animism with the plan to now apply for a PhD researching the subject, with my TOKAS research as fundamental in this application.
-Will continue the research of animism at SAARI residency in Finland, this November/December, and analyse the differences between Japanese and Finnish/Nordic Animism.
-Reaching out to sound artists for potential collaboration on the final moving image piece (although this is still possible).

2023, Photo developed in Yomogi, 35mm

2023, Photo developed in Yomogi and printed on Washi, 35mm

2023, Installation at TOKAS Open Studios, Various

2023, Cyanotype of Yomogi and on Omikuji, A1

2023, Cyanotype Animation, HD

Creator Information