Writing on the Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson

The Origin


Robert Smithson created a monumental earthwork of Spiral Jetty on the Great Salt Lake in Utah in 1970. It is a coil made of black basalt rocks and dirt from the site, which is 1500 feet long and 15 feet wide. Starting from the shore, the spiral stretches out and coils counterclockwise into the lake. You have to go through long dirt roads with a detailed map in order to get to the chosen site.

As it is evident in its context, in the middle of “nowhere” as Smithson also suggests, the Spiral Jetty leaves its origin unanswered at many different levels. The film keeps questioning where and when his project starts, and the work itself takes us to different levels of our understandings of origin, bringing the whole notion of how the universe was born, the evolution of things along the passing of time. The idea of origin inevitably generates the idea of time: past, present, and the future. But where something begins and ends are never stable without a fixed point if its origin. The repetitive use of spirals throughout the film, as well as the fact that it is on film (spiral), emphasize the question of origin (question of “beginning” and therefore question of “end” simultaneously) in relation to the idea of evolution and progress. If anything is progressing, or what it means to progress, remains a perpetual question. The notion of entropy becomes a useful term in order to help us understand Smithson’s standpoint regarding to the center of his Spiral Jetty.


\En"tro*py\, n. [Gr. ? a turning in; ? in + ? a turn,
fr. ? to turn.] (Thermodynamics)
A certain property of a body, expressed as a measurable
quantity, such that when there is no communication of heat
the quantity remains constant, but when heat enters or leaves
the body the quantity increases or diminishes. If a small
amount, h, of heat enters the body when its temperature is t
in the thermodynamic scale the entropy of the body is
increased by h ? t. The entropy is regarded as measured from
some standard temperature and pressure. Sometimes called the
thermodynamic function.

(from Webster's 1913 Dictionary)

(“when there is no communication of heat the quantity remains constant, but when heat enters or leaves the body the quantity increases or diminishes.” You can see how this sentence applies to the idea of origin and the creation of the Spiral Jetty. Once some kind of power (energy exchange) gets put onto something, the energy will not be able to hold it self perpetually. The Big Bang theory says the whole universe started with tremendous amount of heat. Stars (like the sun) and planets (like the earth) form from gas and dust and disintegrate back to gas and dust. On the earth, creatures get born and age and diminish back to soil. All the creations seem to go back to where it was born, in a repetitive way along the time passing, like a spiral. Human creation appears to be such a small thing in this scale. But the Spiral Jetty, a human creation made by moving a tiny portion of earth gave a big enough of an impact on my mind to make me realize how small we are. I think that is conceptually immense. )

According to the Oxford English dictionary, entropy is “a measure of the disorder of a system. Systems tend to go from a state of order (low ¬¬entropy) to a state of maximum disorder (high entropy). Entropy becomes a handy word when talking about the Spiral Jetty film, because the disorder of a system means that there is nothing at the center that holds the system together, and the film constantly questions the center of the Jetty, and its origin. “Any order can be reordered” (Smithson Artforum p140).
Any scientific and mathematical way of understanding uses “measurable quantity,” which seems to make it easier for us to recognize/visualize the time progression that is invisible. But because it tries to visualize the invisible, it lets us make “edges” of things to differentiate form each other. This creates contradictories for us to understand how things are related. For example, in a scientific sense, how can we understand how an arrow can hit a target, while we cannot possibly end the decimals of 0.0000000………., which keeps going infinity in theory? The distance from the tip of the arrow and the surface of the target can never touch in this sense. That is where I see the limit of science. And the Spiral Jetty film challenges this systematic way of our thinking.
The whole composition of the film reflects this idea of entropy. As the first half of the film consists of repetitive patterns of sequences, but from the point where the jetty is built, it looses the repetitive pattern, the system.

The Spiral Jetty and the Origin
The film consists of the repetition of going and coming back. Starting from the switching frames of road going and leaving with scenes with the noise of clock ticking in between those opposite directions, switching frames of the dump cars going back and forth with scenes of the water of the Great Salt Lake in between, (The footage of creating the Jetty is not merely a documentation of its construction. The dump cars and the construction of the spiral path become metaphors for the question of Origin. In the process of creating the Jetty, the back of the dump cars repeatedly reappears and dumps the rocks into the water. It goes backwards, in order to generate its path, to make a “progress,” to a point of nowhere. The dump cars go backwards to the “end” of the trail, carrying the potential elements of progress (rocks and dirt, which are products of the past. And also the potential origin of the spiral), dumps the rocks into the water, and go forward driving on the path that they made so far to go back to the “starting point” in spiral.) Smithson runs on the Jetty towards the center of the Jetty and starts walking back the path, and a the end is a zooming in of the photograph of the Jetty (Going closer to what is already in the past, which gives the film a sense of present time. But the film is the past time itself at the same time, which makes the present present in a relational sense.). Not to mention, the film itself also plays forward and gets rewind. “The movie recapitulates the scale of the Spiral Jetty. Disparate elements assume a coherence” (Smithson Artforum p.151) .
For this essay, I would like to have my focus on the scenes after the Jetty is built that were shot from the helicopter in order to examine how the origin of the Jetty is treated within this section of the film in detail.
The framing within the film seems to reveal Smithson’s intentionality of questioning how we relate the ideas of the past, present, and future, that is the question of origin. You can see it from the beginning of the film by not clarifying which point of the road it is heading or if it is heading to somewhere or going back form somewhere.
(You can see Smithson’s intentionality in many other scenes within the film. Such as the when he explains the Jetty’s geographical context on by showing maps. On the atlas, the camera frame starts from wondering around Australia, slowly curving to Asia, then Europe, curve down to America, cuts into the map of Salt lake, but the camera keeps panning slowly curving right to left, counter-clockwise, keeps panning even after it shows where the Jetty is and it keeps curving and go over the name of the lake on the map, in the shape of a spiral, to nowhere on the map. )
After the construction of the Jetty is done, there are two shots of the spiral in the film. One of them only shows the Jetty with his voice over, and the second shot shows Smithson running on the Jetty. The first shot follows the spiral closely counterclockwise. Smithson’s voiceover comes in. Smithson repeats “mud, salt crystals, rocks, water” after a direction for twenty directions clockwise. It zooms out after it follows along the spiral to the center and keeps spinning around counter clockwise. It eventually shows the entire Jetty, then the straight part of the jetty starts to look like a hand of a clock spinning clockwise, which matches with the direction of the voice over. The center of the clock symbolically indicates the unstable condition of time. The voice over mentions “south”, and the spiral starts to spin backwards, also zooms back in to the center and out. Any direction you go is “mud, salt crystals, rocks, water” and they only repeat. While all directions are mentioned, the directions do not matter.

From the center of the Spiral Jetty
North – Mud, salt crystals, rocks, water
North by East - Mud, salt crystals, rocks, water
Northest by North - Mud, salt crystals, rocks, water
Northest by East - Mud, salt crystals, rocks, water

This is another form of spiral created by the repetitions not with progression but with subtle changes for each cycle (different directions, same elements). The fact that he spends time to read those repetitive elements gives it another dimension to the cycle(circle), which makes it an audible and invisible spiral. Having this voice over white showing the spinning of the spiral implies that we cannot position ourselves; we are at nowhere, but at the same time we are everywhere at every possible directions that does not have to be relational to the center. (On the atlas, you can point to the “west” and keep going all the way and you will find your self on the east side of yourself. And the center point, you, cannot be pointed as a direction, although you function as the origin of the directions all around you. )
As the helicopter gets closer to the center of the Jetty, it cuts into still shots of the close up of the basalt that is the continuation of the center of the Jetty. It shows rocks, and even closer shots of salt formation of the rock, and the images of salt formation in a microscopic view, while he talks about salt formations on the rocks that grows both clockwise and counterclockwise. This leads us to think of where all the elements come from. Water has always been constantly circulating.
The scene cuts into the Jetty again, basically the same angle from the last shot of the Spiral Jetty. It also does not show his “starting point” of his running. He keeps running as if there is going to be something for him at the center of the spiral. But it also looks like he is running “away” from the helicopter while he is going “forward.” The whole spiral becomes a “timeline,” with speeded up clock ticking sound generated by the helicopter wings. The reflected sun on the surface of the water starts to appear to represent days passing. He is still running, with his clumsy posture, almost falling every now and then. The shadow of the helicopter comes in and out repeatedly. Nothing much changes but time keeps passing. How much more he can go remains a question, while building up a sense of tension. Falling or not falling. Going or not going. Clockwise or counterclockwise. We are making any progress? Or are we going backwards? But in relation to what, when there is not a fixed center?
The camera frame only shows one strip of dirt coming towards the camera and Smithson running, you cannot see his position in relation to the rest of the spiral. The viewers only know that he is going towards the center of the spiral. You cannot see his past, or the future, but only the present. The shot not only loses our sense of direction but also metaphorically suggests a kind of suspicion that things may only be repeating themselves without making significant changes, or what we call “prograss,” while time just keeps passing, making the present past. Since this is the first shot within the film that the main subject matter is a human being, it metaphorically suggests the position of human beings and their history in relation to the timeline of prehistorical period, the timeline of the earth, the time line of the universe.
During this shot, there are layers of spirals overlapping. The loud sound of a helicopter (a spiral) is so load that there is a strong sense of its presence, shaking our eardrums through the ears (a spiral). (The Jetty itself represents human body in a way also. The red of the lake is a symbolic of blood, which Smithson explains as “protoplasmic solutions,” which is made of “masses of cells consisting largely of water, proteins, lipoids, carbohydrate, and inorganic salts.”) The salt crystals are coiling both clockwise and counterclockwise on the Jetty. Smithson himself is a clock, as he runs on the spiral his shadow spins clockwises around him making him the center of a clock.
The position of Smithson is kept at the center within the frame while he is running counterclockwise and the spiral is moving clockwise. He reaches to the center, and he starts to walk back on the same path that he took to get there. The shot starts to spin backwards at the same time. He is not going anywhere, even “on the way” to the center of the spiral that really is nowhere. The scene is only generating a “spinning sensation without movement” (Smithson The Spiral Jetty p. 8).

The Jetty is consisted with filling and infilling, as the notion of entropy is in action within the film. While we recognize the Jetty as the spiral, which is made with rocks that is above the waterline, while the is no split in between the earth and the Jetty, the water that is filling the negative space of the spiral is also in the form of a spiral. This connection of the water of the lake and the spiral shaped by moving the earth really emphasize the question of the origin.
The spiral appears to be floating on the surface of what Smithson calls, “non-site.” The surface of the lake is functioning as a mirror, which is only a vacant reflection of the site. But at the same time, the water surface gains more solidity in its existence, functioning as a bright, glowing spiral, which makes the spiral made with rocks into a dark black silhouette, transforming it into another kind of “negative space,” the void. Where does the reality start? The spiral is reversed. Smithson’s site and nonsite collapses into each other. “My dialects of site and nonsite whirled into an indeterminate state, where solid and liquid lost themselves in each other” (Smithson Spiral Jetty p.10) What defines the spiral, what surrounds it and what it surrounds, what it is made of, where it starts and ends are all stirred up. This challenges the science. It emphasizes the “never to be solved” question of the idea of entropy, where we do not know at which point of a process we reach the “maximum.” Our ideological sorting of the categories of a system (how we name each thing to distinguish one concept from another) becomes disordered, discentered, and everything is connected.
Smithson frames the Jetty so that the light of the sun reflects at he center of the Jetty. It immediately changes our perception of the context of the lake into a view of a galaxy, the solar system: the essential key for the origin of creatures on earth. But “the entropy of the universe tends towards a maximum” as Rudolf Clausius insisted (Tolman p. 262-265). The end of universe is prospected that it ends up in heat death. The sun is also the key to death, as well as the origin of living at the same time. The Jetty questions the in between: the beginning of galaxies and their end. You realize that there is actually not a “beginning” of things.

Smithson’s Spiral Jetty film comments on the history of earth and evolution of life; the birth of universe and the question of life through the use of spirals visually and metaphorically. The Jetty questions, where the central point is and/or how we decide the notion of “center,” the idea of how anything stated to get formed, where is the “origin”? Does anything start from only a point? In his film, “Spiral Jetty,” Smithson uses layers of the ideas of “spiral,” that can also be understood as decentering, in order to emphasize this question of “origin.” However, to question the notion of “origin” may only be a linguistic paradox, in which without our use of language, there is neither the idea of a “center” nor “origin” to start with.
Within the context of art history, Smithson’s Jetty also questioned the center of conventional gallery/museum context of art, which also made a radiant influence to the art world today.


Smithson, Robert. “A Cinematic Atopia.” Artforum. Sep 1971

Smithson, Robert. “Robert Smithson: Spiral Jetty.” University of California Press. 2005

Tolman, Richard C. “Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology” Philosophy of Science, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Apr., 1935)


New Medi Show at OCCCA

Two fo my video works are going to be shown
in "New Media Show" at Orange County Center of Contemporary Art,
from November 4nd to December 12th.

Please join us at the opening on November 4th at 7pm***


New Media:
> By definition, New media art is a generic term used to describe art related to, or created with, a technology invented or made widely available since the mid-20th Century. The term differentiates itself by its resulting cultural objects, which can be seen in opposition to those deriving from old media arts (i.e. traditional painting, sculpture, etc.) New Media concerns are often derived from the telecommunications, mass media and digital modes of delivery the artworks involve, with practices ranging from conceptual to virtual art, performance to installation.
November 4 - December 17, 2006
> Reception for the Artists: Sat Nov 4th, 7-10pm FREE

Juried by John Newlander and Stephen Anderson
> Both are accomplished artists that have created multiple
video and installation / interactive works.
This international call for art provided an opportunity to
work that breaks new ground with art and technology.

Selected Artists:

Holly Longstaff – Distorted Conversations: On and Offline Explorations of Genomic Art
> Her work fosters public dialogue and debate about novel technologies. She is a social scientist working in the area of genomic and genetics. She turned to New Media art when she could not communicate certain troubling aspects of her research through academic papers, presentations or public consultations. She is particularly interested in pre-implantation of genetic diagnosis, genetic engineering of human embryos and genetically engineered food products.

Brian Evans – Squrl
> Software that constructs images using binary formulas created by the artist.

Chris Basmajian – Unstable Mirror & Psycho
> Chris uses a processed real-time video as sort of a digital mirror, which is able to distort perception and time. He makes the viewer stand before an electronic image and video camera, forming an optical stirred by the curious gravity of narcissism. As the viewer moves, the image is activated in ways that give pause for reflection. When body language of the internal monologue is read outside of the speculative circuit, a social element intrudes in unpredictable ways.

Catherine Forster - Golden Oldies
> Catherine has utilized the iPod for visual metaphors for Golden Oldies songs such as Under the Boardwalk, Spinning Wheel and Tiny Bubbles.

Robert O’Connor – We Drink
> Visually poetic performance packed with metaphor and contextual overtones.

Michael Lasater – Billboard
> A monotonous snare drum riff drives this composition; with each drum roll words fly and tumble onto the screen, then exit. A man in neon outline eats ravenously, constantly. The rhetoric of Billboard is that of mass advertising, vaudeville and TV situation comedy; it’s a sales piece, designed first and foremost to simply get and hold the attention of the audience. What it’s selling is a message with several possible interpretations.

Steve Shoffner – Looking Glass 12
> His hidden performance pieces explore surveillance and public fascination with technology.

Karen Horlbeck – Permutations
> Karen’s work deals with language and visual comprehension while randomly weaving two stories with identical grammatical syntax together forming new narratives.

Brian DeLevie – Remembered, Digital Palimpsests #4
> Is a visual exploration of recorded history and subjective memory. Using the palimpsest as a model for this exploration Brian layers each canvas with imagery and video to represent mixed memory, a merging of historical and personal perspectives whose partial erasure and rediscovery recedes and re-emerges with a media saturated environment.

Jason Margos – Come Inside
> The mundane and the humorous play a large role in his video work. His videos exaggerate depiction of the everyman and his routine. They are a product of deep fascination with his surroundings. Jason says that the medium of video has allowed him a new way to realize his vision and tell stories.

Julie Easton – Wishing You Well
> This piece was made for her best friend of 23 years, Marianne, who had been living with cancer was nearing the end of her journey and it is a gift to other courageous individual living with life altering illnesses. A mixed media installation that utilizes organic materials reflecting the materials we are made from and man-made materials denoting our fascination with and our reliance on our creations. This pieces also incorporates a recorded phrase “Wishing You Well” from family member and friends in several languages. The looping video and audio functions as a digital mantra, reflecting and refracting a state of wellness to the viewer.

Mika Soma – Playa Del Ray and Eating At Home
> Charming video projects that explore relationships and co-dependence.

Humberto Ramirez - Interactive Websites
> A survey of highly interactive / conceptual websites.

Michael Ryan - Dead Space
> Michael has created a mechanical structure that emulates a biological system. His piece uses kinetics and sound to explore and expand the perceptive field into an experimental dialogue between the visual, the aural and the volitional domain of the viewer.

Paho Mann – Sort
> Interactive Website in which the artist has documented everything he owns and invites the viewer to sort and organize his possessions. Like shopping at your friend’s house.

Karolina Sobecka – Pornographic Pursuit
> In this interactive piece the viewer stands before a vintage movie of Marilyn Monroe where she proceeds to seduce the viewer with a coke bottle and an apple. Her enticing strip tease moves frame by frame to the movements of the viewer, if the viewer stands still the movie stops or goes backwards if they move quickly it speeds up. Ultimately the viewer becomes wildly active; dancing about waving arms, trying to get to the movie to move along quickly to a scene that is implied but does not appear.

Delvin Charles Hanson – The Dance
> A constructed 3D model dances and interacts in a video theater.

Orange County Center For Contemporary Art
117 N Sycamore. Santa Ana, CA 92701 www.occca.org
714 667 1517 • Th-Fri 12-5pm, Fri-Sat 12-9
1st Sat receptions: 7-10pm • First Friday Films: 8pm
Orange County Center for Contemporary Art
> Is an artist run California nonprofit corporation. OCCCA affiliate artists are committed to presenting contemporary art exhibitions in an atmosphere conducive to discussion without censorship.
OCCCA is located at the corner of 2nd and Sycamore in the Santa Ana Artists Village. There is no entrance fee. Please see the web site for moreinformation, www.occca.org, or call the gallery during regular operating hours.

Maps and other area events please see www.aplaceforart.org


Film and Video Festival at Echo Park Film Center

Two of my video works are going to be shown at this show.
"Akai-ito @ Playa del Ray", and "Eating. -at home-"
I hope you can come and see my works.
I will be there, so please feel free to talk to me.
(And I am terribly sorry to all of my friends for not having free admission tickets for you...)

The Los Angeles Art Association
in association with the Echo Park Film Center presents:
Film & Video 825’s

“2nd Annual Student Film & Video Festival”

Thursday, July 13, 2006, 8pm

at Echo Park Film Center
1200 N. Alvarado Street (@ Sunset Blvd), Los Angeles, CA 90026
$5 general admission

Film & Video 825 is pleased to present the very best in international student video art. The artists selected this year comprise students from the 8th grade through the MFA level.

The festival will include the work of:

Tarik Abdel-Gawad, UC Santa Barbara
Manasi Ashish, Otis College of Art and Design
Jesse Bellon, York University, Ontario, Canada
David Callaghan, CSU Northridge
Alexis Disselkoen, UCLA
Brittany Lynne Jones, Loyola Marymount University
Jeffrey Magenheimer, LA City College
Hisashi Murakami, CSU Northridge
Dustin Patar, Howe Sound Secondary School, British Columbia, Canada
Mika Soma, Otis College of Art and Design
Alexandra Wetzel, USC

Film & Video 825 is a bi-monthly event or screening of local, national and internationally recognized video artists’ work, curated by LAAA/Gallery 825 and members of the arts community. It is the ongoing mission of Film & Video 825 to support and provide a forum for presenting in Los Angeles, bold, contemporary works that are outside the mainstream of narrative cinema. Our curatorial vision is open to both shorts and features in experimental, performance, animation, and documentary forms.
For more information on Film & Video 825 or LAAA/Gallery 825, please visit our website at www.laaa.org.


Back In Japan

I am currently in my home town, Ashikaga, Japan.
I will be sampling my favorite ambient sound here on Mini Discs, and videotaping whatever I feel like.
I am thinking of collecting sounds and footage from both Japan and Los Angeles in order to generate works that intergrades those two places that I consider as my "home".
By using the material I will have, I am thinking of a video work, a projection installation with sound, audio installation, photo collages, and some paintings possibly. (Not as a whole projetct. They are all separate projects at this point.)


Public Art Proposal

Proposal for our Zigbee Radio Waves transmiting project

see this link to see our proposal

Impetus- what’s the drive to produce the work?

I am interested in creating an object that is accessible to anyone that causes questions to viewers. In this project, our audience is going to be indeterminate even though it is installed for an event, and the signage of the information about radio and its restrictions made by FCC, and by giving them the opportunity to “break the law” will cause fundamental, but often transparent questions about what is right and what is wrong. When can it be right/wrong, why can it be right/wrong, under what circumstances can it be right/wrong, who tells us what is right/wrong, and why do “they” want to do that to “us”? I am hoping that this project will question the power structure to the audience.

Research- investigation, sources, methodologies
Research on how the technology works :
We have read a lot about how a radio works, but I got to learn about transmitter by being in charge of assembling our transmitter. We will need a conductive substance in the trim cap for it to work the best. Otherwise the sound quality and transmitting range remarkably drops down. Armature radio people use a lot of powerful (and very expensive) equipments in order to find the unlisted frequencies and have very strong transmitters/radio receivers to get their station heard by the masses.

Investigation on FCC restrictions:
I found this pdf file that a lawyer created explaining the commity's reglations so it is easy to understand.

Last years' Sound Walk info to get some sense of what it will be like this year:
SoundWalk is an annual art event produced by the Long Beach artist group, FLOOD.
In SoundWalk2005, there were 60 artists (from Southern California, Germany, Italy, UK, and New Zealand ), and about 1,000 viewers to particpate the event. "Many of the visitors had no prior encounter with sound art as sound installations and their responses to the event were overwhelmingly excited. The installations include a wide variety of combinations with visual and audible components. There are sculptures, environments, installations, and performances.The outdoor sound installations add a layer to and perform in concert with the sounds of the city, thus altering and intermingling with the ambience of their locations. Unlikely combinations of the ordinary and the extraordinary become chance encounters for the attending public. Galleries and stores within the Arts District will accommodate a variety of indoor installations in uncommon intersections of art and commerce."


According to Michele Jaquis, who participated in last years' event, there will be a miture of art/non art audience.

Locus- geographic and metaphoric site, location, place; characteristics of the space;
Our site will be Long Beach Sound Walk 2006. Because Sound Walk still has not responded to my email regarding to their potential location for this years event, we do not have specific locations for our “Pedestrian Broadcasting Units”. But since I am concerned about our project’s site-specificity, we should have the list of the other radio stations as a part of the information provided at each unit.
According to Kate, for last year their site was about a couple of blocks in Long Beach, between Long Beach Blvd and Alamitos, 3rd St and 1st St.
The site is expected to be somewhat crowded due to the event, which will give our project better chance to be discovered and actually interacted.

Transactions- forms of engagement, collaboration, inquiry. Meaning development, planning
I have been collaborating with Aaron, Brooke, and Kate to put this proposal together. Through this project we had to learn how to communicate with each other better, and keep our ideas together.
I think that our project will cause some confusion and questions about the ideas of power and autonomy in turms of media producers and consumers, and also the idea of privacy and public, on the audience who happen to find our units.


I dont want art to be as special as right now...

Today, I was listening to an artist who was giving a lecture at Otis, and he both inspired me and also discouraged me a lot at the same time for saying that he does not care about outside the art-world audience because 'normal people' just do not get it.
But my concern in art making is to break through that kind of distancing of people by separating people by the idea of "insiders" and "outsiders". I am also concerned about closed-mindness of humans. I often find myself trying to find out some ways to smudge the line in between art and life. I want to make something that may be called "art" that doesn't limit the audience. I want to make something that maybe called "art" that brings positive questions for the audience. I want to generate the potential bond in between people through my creations as a part of the world.


"Moon Without Rabbits"

"Moon Without Rabbits" writing mika soma 2006

World without monkeys. Make marshmallow-bricks and build a soft, sweet, wall to block a view. Mortared crane flies over salty water. A suspended floor dripping over an ugly cake. A tightly connected scarf choking us to death. It scratches in my eyes and they pop out. Tomato juice is too green to me. The sun floats through shattered windows. Boil-Boiled-Boiled. Hard, heavy clouds fall down to the earth. Shadows grow into the sky. Kuramubon kuramubon, I want to see kuramubon. Childhood dream. A vast rice-cracker-fields over that marshmallow walls. Dirt-Driter-Dritest. A mouse takes me to the other side. Very far, and very close. Luke warm breeze stabs through my ears to deaf. Wavy and static voice calm my pulse. #? or $? A rooster with a secret-key-shaped beak. The day watcher looks at the Moon without rabbits. Excessive use of drier in June. Treasure of the island. The corner shrinks to spread. A shaking dog sleeps on a melting roof for tomorrow to Come-Came-Come. Fill the bowl with a bunch of universe. Vacuum the wethers out of a Luis Vuitton bag. Traces of airplanes. Ichigo-shoto hitotsu onegai shimasu. (One strawberry cake please.)


My interests in Senses and Textures***

I have been thinking about candy lately because my partner has been doing very interesting things with gummies and hard candies. (I am not telling the detail*)
But what interests me is how pretty it is, and its connotations of childhood and sexuality.
The hard candy that he made was so beautiful. I think its beauty can be used in some interesting ways in making art.
But I just happened to get some marshmallows from my friend Nick, and I was telling him how I never really liked its taste, but I have alwasy loved how it feels on my finger tips and cheeks.
Maybe I should make some marshmallow to play with.

Its texture resembles that of a "daifuku-mochi". A soft sweet red bean paste covered with mochi, which is coated with very fine flower. I love how this feels also.
Daifuku matress, daifuku garmet, daifuku person.....


A Sketch for "A Trip To No-Where" Project

I decided to do a sketch for my "Trip To No-Where" project with Aaron Freeman.

We had a dice, video camera, a notepad, and a pen in my car.
I drove and rolled a dice whenever I had to make a decision to turm left or right, or after driving for 10 minutes in one direction. We decided that even #s would be a right-turn, and odd #s would be a left-turn. Aaron videotaped my rolling of the dice, and recorded the turns on a notepad.

Departing from our apartment in Westchester at 2:47pm, our first sketch went on for exactly an hour, until 3:47, which we ended up in a street in Hawthorn.

Originally, this sketch was going to be about a 4, 5 hours long.
However, as we went along, we discovered that there should be some adjustments in the system that we were using.

First, I wanted to be able to trace the rout that we took on a map later, but we did not rememeber to record the street names. It was a lot to do for Aaron and I did not want to ask him too much. Later in the process, we figured that we can just read the street names out loud for the camera to pick up our voice. (Maybe for the next try, we could have a map to begin with and trace it as we go?)

Secondly, we did not end up as far away as we would have liked.
It was an interesting discovery how the streets demanded us to make a decision to turn before we go straight in one direction for 10 minutes. Out of 14 turns that we made within an hour, there were only 2 turns, which I had to roll the dice because we drove for 10 minutes from the previous decision. What it did was that we kep going back and forth in between Westchester and Inglewood.
Aaron and I talked about how we should have a choice for going straight. Aaron sugested that we could try deciding the "directions"(North South East West) by rolling dice, instead of left or right turns. Then I thought about going as straight as we could go until we must make a decision for turning or deciding the direction to go.

I thought about the "good-old Yamato(Japanese) spirit" of well-determined straightfarwardness. Being on a road and letting go of our control over where we we go became symbolic of life as we went on. I have really been interested in Buddhism lately, which is from a Western philosophical view very illogical and irational. But I feel like that my frustration with the understanding of Western philosophies and Western way of thinking must stem from the fact that I come from a different culture, and I would like to examine that in my artistic practice, because I do not want to draw lines in between things, like in between art and life and everthing else, since everything is a part of whole (one).


A Shift and Progress on a public art project

I have been talking with Aaron and also Brooke and Kate, and we have come to collaborate all together for our final project for Suzanne Lacy's class****

We have discovered that all four of us have been thinking about the use of "radio" for
a future project...

We talked about how we listen to the redio in our cars, and how we could have multiple radiowave trasmiters along a street, which have live sound of different contexts, (maybe the real time sounds of other streets/sound of inside of the stores that are along the street/sound of someone's house/voice of pedestrians/people telling stories about their perosnal atachment or detachment of the context, ..etc) so that a person driving a car along the street would pick up the signal as s/he proceed on the street.
By having multiple stations and transmiters, what the person hears changes as s/he drives around But this is still a sketch and we are not sure exactly what kind of sound we will broadcast, or how and where we will locate the trasmiters.

We have decided to have a Group Blog together to communicate
please check it...



Akai-ito #2 > Completed.

My second project with my 30ft long scarf has finally been finished. If interested, please contact me for a viewing.


“Akai-Ito @ Playa Del Ray 2006“
Video Projection (9 min)
Mika Soma 2006

“Akai-ito” means a thin invisible red string that connects people in Japanese. It is often used for describing how two people are attracted to each other, and how there is a mind-to-mind communication, instead of describing and putting the feelings into words to understand what you are feeling.

My brother wanted to run with my scarf on, so that the other end of the scarf would not touch the ground, like how ninjas used to train themselves to run very fast. I really liked how energetic it sounded. My brother and I went to a beach together. Every time I go to the beach, I think of Japan beyond the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. There seems to be a sense of connection to the “other side” beyond the horizon over the sea, while the ocean is so big and spread that it is very vague.

My brother and I physically use our connection, the scarf, to achieve an invisible connection that we both share. My goal in the process of creating the work became to generate another invisible string, the waves of energy, which comes out from my video for the viewer to experience, while bringing questions of boundaries. People often want to put things into their categories so that they feel that they understand things better. But what is the space between people? What connects and divides things? What is honesty and fallacy? What is documentation? What is an illusion? What is the line between art and life? What is the line between anything?


Public Art Final project update

As for my final project for Public Art with Suzanne Lacy,
I will be working on two different projects, with teo different goups of people.

with Aaron Freeman:

We have decided to work on a project together for the first time, which I think we both have always wanted to do.
At first, we were going to do the project that I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the "floating somen noodle project", but we decided to come up with 'our' project, instead of doing the project that I came up with myself.

We have talked about planting "poppies" in areas that are in 'public' and enclosed and , such as Aaron has done a lot of research on various kinds of plants that contain drug contents since last semester. And I have been interested in drug issues here in America, which I was not familiar with the idea at all when I was in Japan.
But as we were talking about this project, we have realized that the poppies will not be flowering by the end of this semester, and we would like to be able to show somwthing that we can actually "show" to the class. Therefore, we have decided that we will start this project soon, but not for this class.

Than, we started talking about "food", since we are both interested in food. Aaron used to be a chef before and he is a great cook. I am not a good cook but I love eating, and I like the act of eating. We talkedd about how food brings people together, and how it is used as a "tool" for socializing very often. I think we can come up with something with food, or the idea of food.

I will also be working with Brooke Rollo and Kate Stewart on a project.We talked a little bit about our interests. I will post it later. But we still need to get together and talk more.


(Title not yet decided) But One Must Support the Others Project

This is a simple idea for a project, which could turn out to be interesting, and it may also require a lot of effort to achieve. (which I would like.)

Humans need to support each other.

And the word for "cooperation" in Japanese is consisted of charactors of "10" and "strength", "strength", and "strength".


10 people in a circle sit on each other, holding onto the person in front's shoulders.

(Location not yet decided, but places where there is a fair amount of people around.)


Things that I want to deal with in my art making...

I decided to keep some of my notes in my blog.

Things that I want to deal with in my art making...

Who I am/what I like and why/what interests me and why/
question of what is private and public
my identity within the context of 'public'
my identity as a Japanese
question of ethnicity
analysis and breaking-down of ideological ideas
my idea of art as a life style
act of eating
idea of 'right' 'normal' 'good' and 'beauty'
sense of touch
internet and mutiple identities

connection in between people and the separation in between people
and how the use of language plays out

The fact that English thinking process makes me feel like I have another identity

The limitation of language

the idea of sharing/unifying

responsibility as an artist in a society - connection maker/confronting of every single aspect of life = how honest one can be to heself or himself / bringing of questions by engaging with the viewers through my work /

The power of mass media as a strong social ideology generator. I fear it for making people more and more regressive of themselves.

What can a person do within a life time?

more to be added ...>

thinking of public art...#1

I intend to execute several projects, which takes the context of 'public' for this semester.
I will decide what I will be doing for my final project before this Thursday.
Those are some of my projects that I am considering to do in the future, whether I will do them this semeter or in the future.

Floating Somen Needle Poject (Performance/Video)
short description:
I would like to eat floating somen needles, which would be floating on a pvc pipe that is cut in half vertically, possiblly at the end of Ballona Creek where the creek and the ocean meat. This is a project that I thought of when thinking more about Ballona Creek project, and thinking about my relationship with the context.
There is a Japanese seasonal custom for summer, where people get together and sit around a bumboo that is cut in half verticaly, and have a constant flow of small amount of water and float somen needles (really thin Japanese needles) from one end to the other, so that the people can catch them as the needles go by with chopsticks.

"Akai-ito" Project ~ continued
I intend to go to many other places to do my "Akai-ito" (A Red String) Project.
Considering places in America : Las Vegas, Hollywood Blvd, Desneyland, 3rd Street in Santa Monica, The Getty Museum, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills...
I will be doing this project in Japan also this summer, probably in May or June.

Wrong Number Project
I would like to call random people and try to have a conversation with total straingers.

Trip to Nowhere Project
Derived from the idea of chance operation which John Cage dealt with in his practice, I would like to have no aimed arrival point and take a road trip. Turns will be decided by a rolled pencil which has 'left', 'right', and 'U-turn' on its sides, at any point that I have to stop. The duration of the project is ideally one week, but I would like to at least try a day.

more ideas will be posted....


Project ; "Ma" 2005

I have posted some of the picture of my fabric-architectural sculpture that I made last year on my home page.

>> http://homepage.mac.com/mikanorange

I greatly welcome any kind of commets and feedbacks on any of my projects.

Thank you***


A Red String Project #2 >> @ a Beach

A Red String Project #2 >> @ a Beach

My brother wanted to run with the 30 foot-long scarf on, fast enough, so that the other end of the scarf wouldn't touch the ground.
He and I decided to go to the beach near LAX and run while the sun is rising.

I am currently working on edditing the footage.


"Akai-ito" >>A Red String Project @ Little Tokyo

“ Akai-ito” (A Red String) 2006 :
Knitted scarf/Performance/Video

“To be conected by Akai-ito” is an idiom in Japanese language, which means an invisible line that ties and holds a couple together. It indicates love and affection. In Japan, people rarely say, “I love you” among family members unlike here in America. It is even rare for a couple to say, “I love you” to each other as well. From my personal observation, comparing Japanese people and American people, Japanese people tend not to verbalize and express our feelings as much. People might be too shy to tell people what they are thinking about, and some people might be too scared. To me, the sound “I love you”, or “ai-shite-ru”, does not feel enough, or it is too borrowed from a ‘language’, especially when I cannot define the meaning of the word, “love” through language. You probably have experienced as some point in your life that your extreme feelings of happiness, sadness, madness, sympathy, are so indescribable that sometimes you don’t even know what kind of feeling you are experiencing and you can’t categorize it in words. But whether it is “love” or something else, I know when I like someone. To me, it’s the feeling of unity that I seek in relationships with people.

I made a red 30 feet long hand knitted scarf last year to share it with people, to be connected with them. It was based on the fact that I used to share my favorite red scarf that my grandmother made for me with my brother when we were little. Then my brother came to America 9 months ago. Growing up together though, we did not talk to each other very much until last year, and I did not know my brother very well. After realizing so, I wanted to know more about him.

I decided to share my red scarf with my brother again. I chose Little Tokyo as our spot because I am interested in its historical and social context. Now it is one of Los Angeles tourist spots, and it is nothing like Tokyo. I was very much interested in what my brother would say about the place also.

My brother and I walked round Little Tokyo with the scarf and a video camera for about an hour around noon on a weekend. There was a fair amount of people on the streets. We were connected with a visible line attempting to generate invisible connections with our encounters, while this physical connection constantly challenged our mental connection. Many people smiled at us and talked to us, while some people (mainly Japanese people) tried to ignore us completely.

This is an ongoing experimental project, which deals with the issue of language, personal/social relations, and what it means to be in Los Angeles-America as Japanese.


Ballona Creek Info#1.

The site picked for the project is Ballona Creek. The Ballona Creek Watershed totals about 130 square miles, draining the Los Angeles basin from the Santa Monica Mountains on the north, the Harbor Freeway (110) on the east, and the Baldwin Hills on the south.

The major tributaries to the Ballona Creek include Centinela Creek, Sepulveda Canyon Channel, Benedict Canyon Channel, and numerous storm drains.

Maps borrowed from http://www.ballonacreek.org/creek.shtml

Public Art Projects

I am working on a collaborative public art project with Erin Apreston, Esther Feldman, and Chih Yu Lin. This is going to be my second art project in a public setting.

>>In 2004, I went into Ralphs and I picked a customer to follow around, and I bought every single item that she purchased. I had all of my classmates wandering around us (the lady that I picked and myself) , and they had 4 video cameras and 3 digital cameras to document the event. I also had a video camera on my shopping curt. Later of the day, I went home and video taped myself cooking a dinner using all of the items that I purchased.<<<>

Mika Soma Jan. 27. 2006