Collaboration Update #1


Since Will and me started our collab, we have been doing call and answer on a daily basis. I was inspired by one of his drawings which is a drawing of cyborg then I got this software that can create robotic voice…I was trying all kinds of voice patterns and it’s purely fun! It can even change the voice of Elmo from my son’s toy phone!


Listening to a sample track (🔥🔥🔥) that Hitoshi (Gozu Mezu) sent me earlier today. We have both sent a few sample pieces of our respective works back and forth. We’ve both used each other’s pieces as inspiration to create a something new. The track I am listening to draws inspiration from a cyborg digital drawing that I sent him. His music resonates with me, and we have very similar overlapping ideas. We have a good plan that is starting to take shape. The story that we are creating together is going to be very interesting, I think. Stay tuned…

Digital art photographed by Will Shintani

Collaboration Update #1

Jaw-Drop is a new work-in-progress, trying out a new movement piece with my masks. The idea came directly out of the first brainstorm chat with Shion-she could envision my chin-masks dropping down, held together somehow, so I set to work trying out different ideas

“Here is a short poem with snippets from my initial creative conversations with Miya. We’ll take inspiration from these words and concepts as we dive into this collaboration”

Shion Skye Carter word poem: 
public vs. private
fractions, identifiers.
borderline grotesque
familiar, unfamiliar

Collaboration Update #1


I am thrilled to collaborate with retired legendary Filmmaker/Producer for the National Film Board, Michael Fukushima.  I know that Michael will give me so much education about filmmaking that he will inspire me in unimaginable ways. It has always been a dream of mine to be able to give an authentic voice and bring to life, the courageous members of my family who had endured so many challenges to be Canadians.  To be with them through all of their struggles, to be thankful for all of the gaman and strength they needed to persevere in the face of disaster. 

For most of my life, I had denied being a Canadian who is Japanese because the issue of my identity has been a troubling one. Perhaps my ambivalence stems back to my early years when we first came to Ontario, in the living room of my parents’ closest Nisei friends every Saturday night. Other Nisei friends also came to this house.  While my sister and I watched television, the adults spoke in whispers about “TASHME”, which I thought was a Japanese word… much later I learned that it was the acronym of the names of the three B.C. politicians who wanted  to force all Japanese Canadians to be interned – Taylor, Shirras and Meade. The adults looked so serious and worried as they asked about long-lost friends. I assumed that whatever they were discussing was a bad thing. My parents never spoke about what had happened… and I never asked. I just wanted to get away from being Japanese. 

In 1995, I asked my mother to write her story for her grandchildren. At first, she was reluctant saying no-one would be interested in her life, But I persisted. Mom wrote her memoir.  In 2001, six years after she wrote her story, I painted SHIKATA GA NAI/ IT CAN’T BE HELPED, ALBERTA, 1951, of myself holding my Anglo doll, behind a barbed wire fence, my mother toiling in the sugar beet field behind me. This was my first major work on my family story of forced relocation. The beginning of healing for both my mother and me.

Acrylic painting: Shikata ga nai/It Can't Be Helped
Shikata ga nai/ It  Can’t Be Helped , Alberta, 1951.        Acrylic on Board.    30”x48”


Me. Starting a new creative project, hard.

Pooh Bear thinking

Collaboration Update #1

Planting the Seeds

Thoughts before meeting with my collaborator, Kayla:  

  • How to not think too much, anticipate, predict, direct the activity
  • How to get to know someone “virtually”?  How to spark creativity from a distance?
  • How to play together, from a distance?
  • What do I have to share?  What kind of partner can I be?
  • What does Kayla hope to get from this adventure?
  • Maybe I can list some images that are intriguing me, and see which ones resonate with Kayla
  • Also some practical things to decide:  How often do we want to communicate, by what means…

During our Zoom chat:

     We talked about the challenge of being so free to explore, and how to maybe choose a starting point.  (We decided to use Whats App, and to send messages/images etc. back & forth to keep a dialogue going.  Not as frequently as Matt & Julie, but maybe with a 48 hr. timeline.  I proposed TIGER as our first prompt, as it is Lunar New Year for Year of the Tiger.

     We talked about paths we have the urge to travel, which might be music (instrumental -open vocal-soundscape), making things with our hands, movement, exploring images and “moving pictures”…

     Kayla talked about ways we can get to know each other better, in a pretty free way. (She tried to stay away from “interview” or “Q & A”).  I proposed “interchange”—something very informal like an online PJ Party.  We’ll see!

After thoughts:

I was thinking about how much Kayla (and I too, I think) laughed during our time together.  It reminded me of a piece I wanted to write called “Laugh Three Times”.  Maybe we can “work” on laughter?  

     “waraiko” –  a centuries old Japanese laughing ritual.  Three hearty laughs are offered up   during this celebration.  The first is in gratitude for the passing year; the second is in prayer for the coming year; and the last is for clarity…a laugh to clear the mind and heart.

 I’ve already sent her my first tiger image.

⛅to dream of joy and tigers:this week I’ve been thinking about joy and light, of the lunar new year and what it means to celebrate when you’re far from I met dawn for the first time on the first day of this new year, an instrumental cover of cranes in the sky softly played in the back of my mind. how apt for her to share her interest in sound and music, her background and flute and piano at the end of our conversation.earlier, we spoke of objects and images for prompts, a feeling of being stuck, uncertainty, past fears and new disciplines to try.“there is something burbling inside need to be more creative” she said, noting her interest in seeking both an experience and a challenge. discussing our first prompt, i hesitated. in honour of lunar new year, she then suggested the tiger and blurs of all things tiger I’ve been staring at throughout the week flashed through my mind. How connected and relieved and excited I felt for this to be said.

Sky photo

Collaboration Update #1


‘Ohhh, furo’
Mason jar with sprouts

Hi Baco, thanks for the image and text you sent me. It got me thinking. Recently I was given a great book called “Our Edible Roots; The Japanese Canadian Kitchen Garden” published by Tonari Gumi of Vancouver, along with a little starter kit for growing sprouts at home. I’ve never grown anything before. Like you, I live in a highrise building, so the countertop mason jar garden seemed like a good way to start. Five days later I had delicious alfalfa sprouts and it felt a bit like magic. I quickly got into it with fervor, upgrading my straining screens and sewing a little fabric shade cover for the jar. Like most artists, I’ve encountered lot of pandemic-related challenges in the studio, project after project has hit brick walls that seemed to bar me from the finish lines. While languishing indoors to wait out pandemic lockdowns and avoid inclement weather, I felt like my life was slightly on hold. But my new hobby; my little sprout garden, has become something of an antidote, one that comes with a daily feeling of accomplishment. I marvel at the way these little seeds sit dormant for months on end, but when the moment is right, when favourable conditions present themselves, they spring to life. I am taking a cue from them and hibernating a little. I am taking a pause to think, plan, reflect. For the moment, until the long-term projects can ramp up again, I bide my time working my way through the stack of unread Artforum magazines that have accrued over the years, and coaxing seeds into sprouts.

Collaboration Update #1


Japanese calligraphy
Japanese drawing of man with shamisen and woman. Meme text at top: What key?


Noriko and I are getting to know each other and connecting about our Nikkei experiences. Similarly, when we were both small children, we did Nihon-buyō (Japanese dancing). It made me reminisce about all the very Nikkei moments I have had, especially with culture, martial arts, and festivals. Lots of this was happening and observed at the Powell Street Festival in Vancouver (taiko, musical performances, other martial arts demonstrations), and all these experiences were either very hyper feminine or hyper masculine (judo… I did this when I quit dancing until age 12 or so). I’ve attached some of the dancing photos.

We have also started to explore nagauta style of song/singing with “Otsukisama”, which translates to Dearest Moon or the highest regard you can give when referring to someone/something, “-sama” being “master” when adding as a suffix to someones name. I’ve started to hear this with notable and natural things in Japan too, like Mount Fuji, people refer to the great mountain as “Fujisama”. So maybe this means, “Oh great Moon”, or something. You can find the lyrics and the general translation Noriko provided me. The melody is simple and lyrical and flows a bit more from what little I know about nagauta at this point. 

Noriko also shared with me about 40 other songs. I’m so fascinated by these sounds and the sincerity that is inherent in this style. The only song I know is called “Echigo Jishi” which means “Echigo’s Lion”. And I only know about this because in a recent project of mine that explores Madama Butterfly (an opera by Puccini) and the Japanese melody he appropriated uses this melody a lot. In its original form, the song is much more drawn out, and it’s so long! Probably 13 minutes or so… There’s a droning quality in the voice with little decorative melismas the singer does right after that change pitches, which is further supported by shamisen, shakuhachi, koto. I’ve seen it performed in various combinations now on YouTube.

I’ve also added a drawing of this famous song in there too, which I love. Another fun fact, “Echigo” is the old or ancient word of the place where my father was from in Japan – Niigata, on the north coast Sea of Japan.

– tk

Photo of little girl in kimono
Girls in kimonos dancing behind Powell Street banner
Photo of people in kimonos and festive clothing
Vintage Japanese print of acrobat with dragon mask doing handstand

作曲者 吉住 小三郎
作詞者 中内 蝶二
発表 大正7年(1918年)

Nagauta「The Moon」Lyrics

Moon Goddess, how old are you?
十三 七つ
It has been 7 years since I become a woman at the age of 13. (or this may possibly mean 13 years and 7 months old)

You are still young
and never get old.

You become crescent moon
and full moon.

月の初めの 三日月さまは
Crescent moon at the beginning of each month
まゆににたとよ 姉さまの
looks like my older sister’s eyebrow,
えがおににおう ほそまゆに
the thin eyebrow matching her smile.

You also look like a comb (semicircular in the past).
青柳の 濡れていろます 洗い髪
Washed hair has richer color due to its dampness and looks like a green willow.
おしろいつけて べにつけて
Putting white face powder and rouge.
すがたくずさぬ みだしなみ
Keeping the appearance well.
The mirror reflecting them is very round.

That is full moon in the middle of a month.

Partial moon in dark sky with tree branch in foreground
Illustration of full moon with field of grain in foreground