In this two-part series, the filmmakers used no music, narration, or even ambient noise. Both videos exude an overwhelming silence that creates a tension with the real life ambient noise that occurs whenever one watches the series. While I watched and learned about the use and care of hanging scrolls, I heard the noise of birds singing, cars revving, and a washing machine going. The filmmakers accidentally created two modified versions of John Cage’s 4’33.
The first video had text explaining the tokonoma, how and when the hanging scrolls are used and taken care of, and which flowers match the differing times of the year. Even the vase holding up the flowers change. While the text says the vase during the first section “are in a bronze vase, appropriate year-round.”, the people behind the videos still use a different vase for a later season. Combining photographs and footage of a person furnishing a tokonoma, your eyes switch between the motionless and the moving.
Out of the scrolls used as an example for the tokonoma, Hazy moon over river with fireflies by Shiokawa Bunrin, 1808-1877 (Information was found in the credit slide) was my favorite. The simple moon shape and gray colors? I could stare (and contemplate) at that scroll hanging forever.
The second video is the just the process of installing and removing the hanging scroll. While just as silent, there’s no text and no two different styles of footage.
There is extra emphasis on delicacy and respect for the hanging scrolls. Furthermore, the straps used to keep the scroll rolled up in the box reminded me of the type of film used for a Diana Camera.
I have never been inside a tokonoma, but just seeing the room from the second video made it feel very small and compact, as though the space demands that you not take up too much space in this delicate-looking room