Having excused myself early from the last segment of Johnny Hillwalker’s walking tour of Kyoto, I made a (not so) quick dash over to the Shimogamo Shrine to meet artist Markuz Wernli Saitô.
The last time we’d met was on the Kamo Obashi bridge when, having randomly followed a link from this article, and discovering the momentarium website I thought it would be great to invite Markuz to be a starting point for the Peer-to-Peer Sketchbooks project.
This time, however, was to be much more involved…
Wednesdays in Markuz’s programme are city canal tour days where “surprises and wet feet are guaranteed”. Well, I certainly got both, starting with performing the opening ceremony!
A condensed version of the tour can be viewed here http://momentarium.org/service/popup/1025.html (Quicktime format), but the actual event lasted about 2 hours.
It was fascinating to peer into people’s gardens from what was effectively ground level, and there were some nice little discoveries within the limbo territory of the canal itself: sights, sounds and smells.
Mostly the people we saw did a double-take but recovered enough to give us a friendly “konnichiwa” or “kombanwa”. There were a few quality encounters though, such as the woman throwing food across the canal and two fences to a dog in a garden on the other side, and The Guy in the Red T-Shirt.
I didn’t catch his name, but he just sort of appeared alongside the canal on his bike. After a brief introductory chat with Markuz, he left his bike propped up at the side and came down to join us. …but only for a few seconds before he started sprinting down the canal path!
He reappeared some time later completely out of breath and stopped to chat some more. We saw him a few more times after that as he cycled over various bridges and gave us a friendly wave. I wonder if he ever got back in touch with Markuz later by email?
I’m very much intrigued by how encounters like this can be documented. I was repeatedly amazed by the fact that, in Japan, Markuz has been able to leave his video camera set up on a tripod on the other side of busy bridges and in railway stations etc unattended and without fear that it would get stolen. How would you manage this in the UK or elsewhere? Some sort of hidden camera? An entourage of beefy cameramen?
Is there some other way of documenting the process besides video? Does the record need to be visual and time-based?
Maybe a more comforting way to regard my dozens of mosquito bites is as some form of alternative documentary record…