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Sungazing

Sungazing

Media: 108 Chromogenic color print made by direct sunlight, 200 feet long Chromogenic color print scroll.

On August 6th 1945, at 8:15 AM, my grandfather witnessed a great tragedy that destroyed nearly everything in Hiroshima. He survived the bombing, yet he lost many of his family members from the explosion and radiation poisoning. As an activist and author, my grandfather fought against the use of nuclear weaponry throughout his life, until he too passed away from cancer when I was ten years old. I remember him saying that day in Hiroshima was like hundreds of suns lighting up the sky. In order to express the connection between the sun and my family history, I have created 108 letter size prints and a 200 foot long scroll, made by exposing Type-C photographic paper to sunlight. The pattern on the prints/scroll corresponds to my breath. In a darkened room, I pulled the paper in front of a small aperture to expose it to the sun while inhaling, and paused when exhaling. I repeated this action until I breathed 108 times. One hundred eight is a number with ritual significance in Japanese Buddhism and culture. If the black parts of the print remind you of a shadow, it is the shadow of my breath, which is itself a registration of my life, a life I share with and owe to my grandfather. The mark of the atomic blast upon his life and upon his breath was passed on to me, and you can see it as the shadow of this print.

Hiroshima Keeps Telling

Hiroshima Keeps Telling

Media: Chromogenic color print, burnt wood panel, audio

This installation features Sungazing scroll, and audio I created from my grandfather’s book “Hiroshima Keeps Telling”.
The book begins with a short story about the death of his younger sister Kikuko, who he later explains to be the core reason of why he became an activist. Kikuko was a twelve-year-old schoolgirl working near ground zero when the A-bomb exploded. Her body was never found, even after intensive searching from Takeshi and his brother. Not knowing what happened to his sister is what inspired my grandfather to become an activist against the use of nuclear weapons. The interesting thing about this short essay is that Takeshi writes the story in the first-person view of his sister, who is explaining what had happening at the moment of the explosion and after her death. There are interesting layers created in the recreation of my grandfather’s voice, who is in turn recreating the voice of his own sister.

The audio was overlay with my breathing, which corresponds to the blinking lightbulb that hangs in front of the scroll. The scroll ascends vertically at where the A-bomb was exploded on the topological map of Hiroshima which is blowtorched on a wooden platform.

Ash Lexicon-Silverplate

Ash Lexicon-Silverplate

Media: Burnt Japanese Dictionary, 108 film canisters, burnt 2x4 stud, audio
Collaboration with Sound Artist Andrew Paul Keiper (Andrew’s grandfather was an engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project, helping to develop the A-bomb.)

Ash Lexicon contains 108 film canisters from 1940s filled with ash from a burnt Japanese dictionary.
This project has a component from Hiroshima 08/06/2015 8:15am, which features a Japanese dictionary that is identical to the one once owned by my grandfather. Upon returning his home, my grandfather found his cherished Japanese dictionary incinerated, and saw that the ink had turned white on the blackened pages, as if it were rendered into a photographic negative. At the same time that the radiation from the atomic bomb was inscribing itself into my grandfather’s genes, the flames from the bomb burned everything in Hiroshima, including the Japanese dictionaries my grandfather greatly cared for. This archive of history and culture became ash, thereby recording the destructive force of this new human technology.

The two-channel audio component was composed by Andrew Paul Keiper. Andrew’s grandfather was an engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project, helping to develop the A-bomb. The audio is a soundscape inspired by the specially modified B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers used in the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dubbed Silverplate Series, these planes not only carried and dropped the bombs, but performed other aspects of the missions, including scouting and observation.

We sought in these bodies of work to find a mutual understanding, to contemplate the sorrow and scope of the attack, but also to discover its effect in the contemporary world. In an increasingly unstable political landscape, where our democratic processes seem ever more in peril, the potential for nuclear disaster looms over us, seemingly as dangerous now as it was at the height of the Cold War.

Infertile American Dream

Media: Chromogenic color print, model house kit

Infertile American Dream is a triptych of C-prints, which was created by exposing the light-sensitive paper with the sunlight of the day Trump won the presidential election.

As I watch him talk about the increase of nuclear armament and the indication of even using an A-bomb on a group he holds prejudice against, it harks back to the terror of my grandfather’s experience of Hiroshima in 1945. The haunting realization that dawned upon me about my grandfather that he not only lost his physical home that he grew up in, but also his family that dwelled inside of it too.

The increasing threat of nuclear disaster, as my grandfather experienced, can easily alter and take away the idea of home. Other people like me who seek a home and hope in America, are always afraid of being denied and they will not be able to have a chance to conceive their American Dream, just like the unassembled home in the photograph.

Hiroshima 08/06/2015 8:15am

Hiroshima 08/06/2015 8:15am

Media: Archival pigment print, Burnt dictionary

Hiroshima 08/06/2015 8:15 is part of my Sungazing project, and is comprised of a photograph of the sun and a burnt Japanese dictionary. The photograph was taken in Hiroshima on August 6th 2015, at 8:15 AM, which is the exact time the A-bomb was detonated 70 years prior. The picture was taken from a specific location where the sun would correspond visually to the place in the sky where the bomb was exploded.

The burnt Japanese dictionary shown in the view is the one that identical to the dictionary once owned by my grandfather. He once told through his book, upon returning to his home after the bombing, he found his cherished Japanese dictionary incinerated, and saw that the ink had turned white on the blackened pages, as if it were rendered into a photographic negative.

At the same time that the radiation from the atomic bomb was inscribing itself into my grandfather’s genes, the flame from the bomb burnt everything in Hiroshima, including the Japanese dictionaries my grandfather cherished. This archive of history and culture became ash, thereby recording the destructive force of this new human technology. One of my grandfather’s friends told me once “there is no word that can describe what we witnessed that day”.

MICA Thesis Exhibiton

MICA Thesis Exhibiton

Media: Multimedia Installation

2016 Thesis Show at MICA, The installation consists Sungazing scroll, a burnt Japanese dictionary from Hiroshima 08/06/2015 8:15am, a video projection, a burnt wooden platform with ash., and audio piece from Hiroshima Keeps Telling.

Thesis Paper for more detail on this exhibition.

Thirst

Thirst

Media: Video, Projection, Music ensemble
Duration: 7 minutes 18 seconds
Collaboration with Alexa Rinn (composer at The Peabody Institute of Music)

Thirst is a video piece I collaborated with a classical music composer. The performance took place at the Walters Museum of Art

"The hottest day in Hiroshima, 1945.

Exposed beneath the Suns, they eagerly searched for water,

to quench a thirst they could never swallow.

One by one, stepping into the river,

submerged beneath a blazing sky.

One by one, floating, staring into the Sun."

If Once The World Forgets Evil

If Once The World Forgets Evil

Media: Lens-Based Photography

This is a series of photographs I captured in the History, and Science Museums in both Japan and the United States. Most of the picture contains the imagery or contents that implicate the nuclear weaponary or war itself. This project is based on my fascination of a museum as an archive of history, however it also questions the moral conflict of what is presented as "Accurate History".

The First Photograph, which I call Till End of The Time, is my favorite since it was taken in the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. It was taken in one of the exhibitions where they recreated the office that was used during the Manhattan project.

This project contains 50 photographs

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About Kei

Baltimore City

The idea of visualizing the invisible is something I have been continuously ex­ploring in my practice as an artist. As a photographer and an installation artist, how do I retrieve something that is gone, taken away or destroyed? How do I materialize the fear of radiation and the memory of one you loved? My... more

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