The draft proposal is put online in Issuu

Tōrō Nagashi in Outer Space

2011

This project aims at proposing to have a ceremony of “water lanterns” releasing in outer space. A proposal is going to be submitted to different space agencies such as JAXA and NASA.

Water lanterns releasing is a traditional ceremony held in many Asian countries. Tōrō Nagashi held in Japan is the one with strong linkage to ancient cosmology. During the time, people float paper lanterns down a river. This is primarily done in the evening of ancestor worship festivals. It is traditionally believed that the lanterns will guide the spirits of the departed back to the “other world”. Ancient people always have the concept of “other world”, where the spirits are living in. It is believed to be located on an island at the end of the sea. It is a scarey place but a wonderland without worry. This contradictory character is strongly attached to the concept of “utopia”.

People always have fancy of an utopia found somewhere far from the sea. It was shared among different places of the world. However, this fancy inevitably lost its stand now, after the scientists have shown us the spherical earth. There is no end of the sea. Nowadays, people only recognize those lantern ceremonies as a custom, but hardly believe the physical presence of an “other world”. Our physical connection to the ancestors is inevitably broken.

This art project wonders whether tradition could be transformed and metamorphosed into a contemporary version, so that some of our ancient poetic belief could be re-established in front of the scientific dogma. This project thus tries to switch the location of “other world” from the end of the sea to the end of the universe, where we never explore. This new version could re-form a physical utopia in our imagination.

“They” have just gone to another place after death, not disappear.

 

I initialized this project during my artist residency in ARCUS Project, Moriya, Ibaraki, Japan. During the time, I read books of Japanese philosophy and religions, talked with Japanese locals there, and did a performance with fancy of launching tōrō nagashi on the Moon.