In this vertically oriented video installation a hi-vision projector shows edited footage, shot with a 4K single-reflex camera, of scenes of high voltage transmission cables between central Tokyo and the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture. During a two-and-ahalf year period from 2012 to 2015, the artist made frequent trips to film dams in the mountains between the two regions and towns and villages along Japan’s longest river, the Shinano. Niigata is one of Japan’s leading rice producers. Around 1970, with the completion of a flood control system for the purpose of diverting Shinano River water and maintaining productive paddies, an acreage reduction policy was implemented here. Around the same time plans were developed for the nuclear power plant. The mutual dependence of Tokyo and Niigata grew increasingly pronounced during Japan’s era of rapid economic growth. This work highlights the excessively asymmetrical relationship between the capital and outlying regions as symbolized by high voltage cables, posing questions for residents of the voracious electricity consumer that is Tokyo as well as for the artist himself, a native of Niigata Prefecture who lived for some years in Tokyo.
For city residents such as myself, high voltage lines and the steel towers that support them are a sight we rarely encounter —this despite the fact that cities cannot survive without consuming vast quantities of electricity every day. But just a short distance out of the city, power lines and pylons are ubiquitous elements of the landscape, appearing in places that would otherwise be described as pastoral or mountain settings. Without this network linking power plants to points of consumption, electricity could not play its role in the substructure that sustains contemporary society. But to the extent that this network remains hidden from us, so too does the fact that our lives hang suspended from its terminals. This work is an attempt to render visible, through its sequence of landscapes containing power lines and pylons, the invisible network that feeds and nurtures our cities. As a moving picture, moreover, it creates continuity, incorporating motion and sound over a specific period of time so that we experience these scenes as an unbroken sequence of fragmented lives. It is a work that hints at new possibilities in the representation of landscapes. (SATOW Morihiro)