Half-life

Multi-channel video installation. Half-life, Two-channel video & sound installation, 6’ min. Radiogardase, Two-channel video & sound installation, 5’ 30 min. Picture of the Floating (Radioactive) World,  8mm film transfer into HD video, 10’ min. 2017/2018

The installation looks at the cyclical notion of water through the production of silk in Japan and the Prussian Blue Pigment. Two pairs of videos parallel both natural and artificial metamorphosis in silk production. The second pair of videos is based on the scientific transformation of Prussian blue pigment into a medication treating radioactive contamination.

vimeo link

Maebashi-city also called the “City of Water”; rich in water resources, an essential element for sericulture (production of silk), the city is part of a region that was popular, by the end of 19th century, for its silk industry.

In Half-life, a two channel videos, I connect an archaic/manual silk-reeling apparatus to an analogue 8mm film projector. The left screen features my documentation of the natural process of the silkworms transforming into cocoons. The second screen features my collaboration with an artisanal weaver, together we produced silk thread dyed with Prussian blue ink, not wider than 8mm. I later mounted the thread onto a 8mm blank film and created a projection of a ‘wave’.

Silk-reeling and spinning inspired me to transform silk thread into analogue film and to elongate the cyclical concept of both silk and water. Pictures of the Floating (Radioactive) World, is a digital projection, features the 8mm-blue silk thread seen under the microscopic lens of a 8mm projector. The film vanishes when the silk thread starts to burn and destroyed while being projected.

The two-channel videos titled, Radiogardase, features my documentation of researchers from the of Water Quality Center of Gunma Prefecture, Japan: water-sampling in different locations around nature and industrial areas to be tested for pollution and radioactive materials.

The second screen features a fake laboratory made in my studio, in which I ‘produce’ Prussian blue pills; by erasing fragments of Ukiyo-e – ancient Japanese prints, in which the image of water was inked by Prussian blue. I used chemicals to erase the prints and extract a ‘blue pigment’, residues of the vintage prints.

The process of extracting blue pigment from 19th century prints embody the cyclical concept of the project. Prussian blue pigment, the first synthetic pigment, marked and characterized the waters in Japanese nature in the famous 19th century prints (Ukiyo-e – translates to English – Pictures of the floating world). Today, Radiogardase, is the pharmaceutical name of 500mg Prussian Blue pill – a remedy against radioactive poisonous materials which can be found in Japan’s water since the tragic Tohoku earthquake in 2011 that triggered powerful tsunami waves that caused meltdowns of Fukushima nuclear power plants. Since then, Japans` water is polluted.

The project is a visual essay on our conflicting relationship to nature that can be expressed with the word plant, “being both a factory and green spurt of nature in garden and forest? Is not this ultimate deception the unforced, natural poetry, combining the manmade with the natural ? “* 

The project was produced in the Arts Maebashi Museum artist-in-residency program.
Jun Igarashi (curator)
Toshihiro Fukunishi (production)
Participants: Nobue Higashi,

Image and Editing Keren Benbenisty
Sound Manuela Schininà
Text Brooke Larson