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Diversity Café Tokyo Photographic Gallery; Ebisu Photography Festival planning



The 6th Ebisu image festival under the theme of "TRUE COLORS" , reflecting the diversity of modern society, showed videos of things which are being lost through globalization, things to protect, and what can emerge from new encounters, contacts, exchanges while suggesting possible thinking about the future.

Following the theme of the film festival, this was Creative Flow's second 'Diversity Cafe' and appreciated Susan Hiller's 2007 UK abstract film THE LAST SILENT MOVIE. This new trial was by Keio University's Professor TEZUKA Chizuko, together with an external group including overseas students and alumni to make a work involving multinational, multi-group work which was enjoyed by all. The Cafe debate after the viewing was carried out by dividing into multiple groups led by student facilitators. Participants were free to start a conversation in English or Japanese and the debate was supported by occasional interpreters. Each group presented their main points and the facilitators gave an overview of the discussion before the event was concluded.

One film featured endangered Languages of ethnic minorities from 12 countries and projected the theme of "Diversity" to the participants; to give a sense of the inherent value of freedom and spontaneity which have no value built into the current system. This was an opportunity to directly appreciate and respect the importance of global, diverse cultures, and their receivers.

[Summary of each Group]
Group A (in Japanese)
- There was discussion of the meaning of the first half of the title. Translating the title: "Last Silent Movie" was 「最後の無声映画」but because there was sound and no pictures in the work, this difference in meaning of the words was very interesting.
- Subtitles at the end went two-way up and down which was also amusing.
- How can data on or voices be collected from languages and speakers on the verge of extinction.
- Despite thinking that it is best to project both images and and voice, if you remove the images, the artistic elements are felt.
- In the second half, the discussion about diversity between multi-national discussants was interesting. More interesting than if it was just English speakers.
- In the talk about diversity, which included how to deliver to Mongolian nomads (in the midst of the story of the Nomad), only local people can know where is the home with no fixed address. People from other areas need an address.

Group B (in English)
- First, like A team, the title "Why Last Silent Movie" became a topic of conversation. The results was because it expressed the words that were at risk of extinction, or language that has already disappeared, so that these words became "Silent" in the sense of the "Silent Movie".
- And then, to call it a video even when the actual material is sound was very interesting. Not only is there personal experience of listening to the sound only, but in the form of showing a video provides a shared experience with others which is a rather different experience than a normal video.
- By listening to various languages, and through discussions, it was very enjoyable.
- Through encountering the diverse languages, we were able to appreciate the differences. - The more this knowledge is acquired, the more you can appreciate the differenced.

Group C (in Japanese)
- Is it a sad thing to disappear? A culture is cut off but communication will still continue even if the language is different.
- There were many words where the English subtitles and voice felt that they were very far apart. In English, a very large number of sentences were in the voice of a single tone raising a question over the translation accuracy.
- The "sound" and "song" of words, their rhythm, voice projection, high and low tones and other speech features lead to different characters of the language. Actual bilingual people can change themselves depending on their speaking.
- At first , I thought this was difficult to grasp as such an an abstract and video, but the information was limited and the work stirred ones own experience which became the means of projecting the image. It was very interesting to share past experience and knowledge with each other in the discussion.
- The language will tend to disappear in conjunction with culture.

Group D (in English)
- We thought about the relationship between language and culture. Language is not only a matter of words, but because it is embedded in the culture, if the language disappears, the culture is also lost.
- When speaking in the mother tongue and in English (or other Languages), there is a different feeling. When you speak your native toungue, there is a sense of belonging. And you feel the close connection between the language and culture.
- In the same way, if you want to translate words, there is a danger that the meaning of the most important parts will be lost. For example, despite the positive meaning in the English word "optimism", translating to the Japanese 「楽観主義、楽天主義」there is a feeling of a negative, and really an ironic "congratulations" is included. Translation is very difficult , many words have a cultural background which are accompanied by specific meanings.
- It is important to take care about the use of your own words . People with same language express a common experience which is the driving force for communicating with the world.

Facilitator overviews
Mr. Hiroshi Tsuda
I was very happy that this team looked very carefully at the video. Museum staff will also be pleased I think. This is not just a film of words without image, but as an experimental film, there are many examples of how effective focusing on the sound effects without images can be. From this I felt the sentiment of the speakers and the possibility that the important meaning you want to translate could be lost, that we were losing memories of individual people. It was an important experience I think.
The work "Sonimage" by the French Godard brings merges together the words and meaning of "sound" and "image". We are used to watching with synchronised sound and video but in this case, the "Sonimage" merging can evoke a variety of emotions.
With a deep interest in the relationship between language and culture, this group also concentrated on local language, and was a good experience I think.

Sub-facilitators summary views.
Prof. Tezuka Chizuko (Keio University)
Before I joined, I was worried about how to discuss such an abstract film, but after starting, the anxiety dissipated and a variety of opinions emerged; I think it has been extremely good.

Prof. Kayoko Nohara (Tokyo Institute of Technology)
When I saw this work for the first time, because of a PC fault, only the sound could be heard and the screen (English subtitles) did not show. I could not understand from just the sound, but it was enjoyable to imagine what type of person was talking and what was the meaning. I was concerned that seeing the subtitles might reduce the interest by half! Today, however to see this work l once again, to see and hear the participants talk, the mismatch between sound and meaning, I should not be surprised if this did not lead us to more surprising and uncomfortable ideas.

[Event Outline]
Date: 21 February 2014, 1930-2100
Place: Creative Space Amu
Participants: 25 (19 students, 6 others; 12 nationalities)

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