About Behind The Waves

by Jawshing Arthur Liou 劉肇興

The video art project “Behind the Waves” (波の後) is based on the foot journey in areas savaged by the 2011 tsunami in Japan. I will trek along the coastline in Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate Prefecture in spring 2014. In addition to documenting the entire walk with first person perspective video, the project aims to evoke a sense of resolve and empathy through the views of local volunteers. The walk is in and of itself a pilgrimage and a prayer for those who affected by the tragedy. The footage gathered on the road will be presented in web archives organized by this site and in future exhibitions.

The act of walking is an important metaphor in my work. It is a ritual, a meditation, and, in this project, an homage to the land. What I hope to capture is an active gaze that intensely visualizes the current, while in addition reflects on the past and the future. I do not seek nor avoid images of ruins and destruction. Since the ocean bears the most important witness, it will be constantly in view to remind us of the tragedy, the struggle, and, hopefully, both our vulnerability and resolution that makes us human.

ビデオアートプロジェクト「Behind the Waves(波の後)」は、2011年の津波によって破壊された地域を実際に自分の足で歩いて体験したことをもとに作成するものであり、このプロジェクトのために、2014年の春に福島県、宮城県、岩手県の海岸沿いの道を歩く計画を立てている。私自身の観点から見た全行程のビデオ記録を作成することを目的にしている。又、このビデオは、被災地の人々にも参加してもらって彼らの見解などを通して、ビデオを見る人々の間に共感を呼び起こし何らかの決断をうながす役に立てればいいと思っている。私が歩くこと自体は一種の巡礼であり、被災者に捧げる祈りである。この行程で撮影した映像はこのサイトのアーカイブに発表し、また将来、展覧会などでも公開するつもりである。


Humble attempt, the goal of the project

First and foremost these projects are dedicated to and are meant to serve those who were directly affected by the disaster. Art has the potential of helping us dealing with the dark memory. This work may bring tension and ominous references, but the emotional element is not an end to itself. After experiencing fear and weary, one could receive fulfillment or uplifting feedback as form of therapy. The human response of empathy, crucial for transforming fearfulness into an ability to assist others in pain, could allow this body of work to reciprocate from one location to another.

In addition, I hope the work and its ensuing exhibitions will join the effort by many to engage in dialogs about our relationship with nature. This is even more poignant as we are still in the midst of an active nuclear crisis three years after the tsunami. For the average viewers, the disasters seem too distant to serve as a signal in response to our individual behavior and to the direction of our society as a whole. Many of us are heavily desensitized by the sensationalized media experience of the 21st Century, and can hardly fathom the scope of these events. I hope that the project will provide an alternative to that, which facilitates the communications and actions on a deeper, more personal level.

The recent event that most strongly compels me to work on this project is actually the border dispute between Japan and my home country Taiwan. The two co untries hold strong relationships together historically, culturally, and economically. They are the leaders in each other’s disaster relief effort with private donations reaching over billions of dollars. However, the animosity driven by the recent dispute seems to be escalating. While we do not have direct control of international politics, it is my sincere hope that projects like this will contribute to more exchange, understanding, and empathy between the communities.






How is this site organized?

The site contains the following components. They are easily accessible from the menu on the left. All media will be tagged, and you can search by the the name of the towns or prefectures.

VIDEO LOGS: Every mile of my walk will be captured and posted online. Since my web access is likely to be limited during the trip, only a few clips will be posted in March. More of them will come online from April, 2014.

PHOTOS: Photographs on the trip including my personal observations and project documentations.

PROJECT RELATED: Postings of my previous work and artists that inform this project, news related to the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

THROUGH OUR EYES: I will gather footage taken by the cameras in the hands of local volunteers. The compact high-definition camera will be worn on their heads to capture the first-person perspective of walking on the shoreline. This section will be added at a later date.

INTERACTIVE MAP: When more video is online, I will create an interactive map that will link to the individual video.


このサイトは次の部分からなっており、どれも左側のメニューから簡単にアクセスできる。メディア(vido logs-ビデオログ、photos-写真など)は、タグされ、町名でも県名でも検索することができる。







The project was inspired by Mariko Takeuchi‘s lecture about the non-journalistic photo work in Japan after the tsunami. One of the photographers mentioned, Takashi Arai, provided invaluable input during the preparation of this project. I would like to thank Tokihiro Sato and Rowland Ricketts for their support, Yasuko Watt for helping with the Japanese language, and James Nakagawa for opening my Japan connections. The project is generously supported by the Asian Cultural Council, New York, College of Arts and Humanities Institute Research Grant, and Grant-in-aid from Indiana University, Bloomington.

「Behind the Waves(波の後)」プロジェクトは、竹内万里子氏の講義を拝聴して思い立ったものである。それは報道を目的としない日本の津波後の写真家たちの活動についてであった。この講義の中で写真家の一人として取り上げられた新井卓氏にはプロジェクトの準備段階で言い尽くせないほどお世話になった。また、プロジェクトをサポートしてくれた佐藤時啓氏とローランド・リケッツ氏、日本語でお世話になったワット泰子氏、日本に目を向けさせてくれたオサム・ジェームス・中川氏にも感謝の意を表する。


4 thoughts

  1. Arthur, This is a wonderful project, very open-ended, and one in which I am sure your talents will be productive–and perhaps they will even be expanded by what you encounter. All best wishes!

  2. Hello.
    I’m kurumi. Your project is very wonderful.
    This blog I heard my mother Masako.
    I’m Masako and Masanori’s daughter. You met my family when went in Yamamoto town. It’s my home town.

    I’m living at Tokyo. Because I’m a college student. So I have to living in here.
    My major is international relations. I’m studying English, international relationship, TOEIC and Spanish.

    If you come to Tokyo which
    I want meet you.
    Please replay.

    Have a nice day.

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