Wiener Festwochen, Vienna
Compartment City – Kyoto (Kyoto Experiment 2009 Autumn, Kyoto)
Theatrical architecture creating new urban encounters
This theatrical project set up “evacuation points” at locations around the 29 stations of the JR Yamanote Line, designed to create unique encounters between participants and the city of Tokyo. Participants first visited the project website, where they answered a series of questions. According to their answers, they were designated a certain location near a Yamanote Line station. The participant then downloaded a map to get there and went to visit the site. There they discovered various communities, from religious facilities to collective and shared housing, homeless people, and even so-called “encounter cafés” where men pay to meet women. The project reimagined the circular Yamanote Line as a “Tokyo clock”, curating locations around the city as places to evacuate from “Tokyo time”. The participants became temporary evacuees, constructing new relationships with the city as they explored unknown areas.
Staging the diversity of Tokyo in Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Park
A special prefab building with 24-hour video-viewing booths was installed in Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Park in north Tokyo. Visitors paid to enter and were then free to watch any DVDs they wanted. The videos featured interviews shot in Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Park. From morning until late at night, a never-ending flow of people passes through this public plaza. Who are these people? How can we hear their hidden voices? The interviewees varied in ages, genders and nationalities, but they were all asked the same questions: What do you want the most right now? Do you think Tokyo is a good place to live? Do you think Japan is rich? What is your dream? What are you?
After watching the videos, audiences were offered the chance to take part in an optional tour: an “evacuation drill”. They were given a map taking them through Ikebukuro’s underground passageways to a room in a building where there was an “encounter café”. Visitors could choose a conversation partner through one-way glass and then engage them in a ten-minute dialogue. A final epilogue took place at a small room overlooking the park.
In 2010, “Compartment City – Kyoto” was created for Kyoto Experiment. In 2011, “Compartment City – Vienna” was created for the Wiener Festwochen.