“ 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.