April 4, 2018, 8 PM
Human Resources, 410 Cottage Street Home, L.A. CA 90012 (in Chinatown off of Broadway)
Premier of two sound works in the making since 2013;
Peace Resonance; Hiroshima/ Wendover and
Conical Sound; Simon Rodia/ Antoni Gaudi
PEACE RESONANCE: HIROSHIMA/WENDOVER, 2018
This work will be performed at Human Resources, Chinatown Los Angeles, CA on April 4, 2018 @ 8 PM
PEACE RESONANCE; Hiroshima/ Wendover
On November 14, 2017, after three years of planning and production I performed a sound piece based on my 3-point recording of the acoustics of the Hiroshima Atomic Dome.
The private performance was documented by Weng Sit San and will be edited along with the Hiroshima footage into a short documentary. The date of the screening of this documentary and performance of the final work will be April 4, 2018 at Human Resource in Los Angeles'.
The Wendover Hangar is where, in 1945, the Enola Gay B-29 Bomber flew out of and to Japan to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Immediately and within the first four months, the total death toll was 226,000. These two actions ended World War II.
It's my hope that a future tour of this performance/screening will be coordinated for the Summer/Fall of 2018.
Peace Resonance is a multi-speaker audio presentation that re-links the Hiroshima Atomic Dome to the Wendover Hangar. It’s about history, immigration, resilience and time. It’s part of my on-going exploration about how we hear; sounds relationship to memory and the tactility of sound.
My family is from Hiroshima, Japan. They immigrated to the US in 1957. I was the first US born family member and grew up with the “ghost” of their WWII history. I use the term "ghost" because I've heard fragments of information but no one has shared any details. However, we did have family friends who were active in the communication of their experiences and campaigned for peace. My family lived in Fukuyama, which was very far from the City of Hiroshima but is in fact in the prefecture of Hiroshima.
My first visit to the Hiroshima Atomic Dome was in 1988. I was a Monbusho Scholar, getting ready to begin my post-graduate studies in stage design at the University of Japan, School of Fine Arts. My Aunt, Grand Aunt and Grand Uncle brought me to the Hiroshima Peace Park, Museum and the Atomic Dome. It was an experience that took me years, if not decades to digest. Nothing prepared me for that experience. It was overwhelming and profound.
Fast forward to 2014, I was visiting the Center for Land Use Interpretations artist residency site in Wendover, Utah (a former military base) and was struck by a large quonset across the way. This quonset at the end of an airstrip was the Wendover Hangar, a National Historic Monument and where the Enola Gay B-29 Superfortress bomber flew out of and to the Pacific to drop the atomic bombs.
I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to honor my family’s history not in the shadows of war and destruction per se but rather in the modernity of current Hiroshima; reverent, resilient, contemporary and bustling.
I was already conducting multi-point audio recordings of interior acoustics and presenting them in audio installations. These mash-ups are my attempt to address history, site and memory within a kind of audio omnipresent collage. I had just completed three-point audio recordings of Watts Towers in Los Angeles and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, with the intent of combining them into a kind of double-exposure of two interiors. The symbology for me was as if I were introducing Antoni Gaudi/Sagrada Familia to Simon Rodia/Watts Towers.
What if I could conduct a three-point audio recording of the interior acoustics of the Hiroshima Atomic Dome, process that into an audio composition and then perform that as a three-speaker performance in the Wendover Hangar? The symbology for me was completing the Enola Gays seventy-six year roundtrip back to Wendover as a kind of auto-biographical sound piece.
I envisioned this as a conceptual voyage of the Enola Gay arriving back to the hangar seventy-six years later but carrying with it the redeveloped urban-scape of contemporary Hiroshima. It’s a spiritual round trip. It’s kind of like the monolithic mass in 2010 Space Odyssey, a mysterious mega-mass that returns to civilization, only to be discovered that it’s a spacecraft that was launched by the US to accumulate data and was returning as a transformed mass of data. It’s also a auto-biography of sorts, a portrait of the complexities of being Japanese-American in a post WWII culture of hybrid identities; a dynamic code switching.
PRESENTING PEACE RESONANCE
Once the documentary is completed, I will plan a tour of this audio presentation, which will consist of the three-speaker audio performance of Peace Resonance: Hiroshima/Wendover (0:17:00) and Conical Sound: Antoni Gaudi/Simon Rodia (017:00) and a screening of the video documentary of Peace Resonance by Tom Clancey (0:08:00) followed by a Q & A session.
My hope is to perform this work in Seattle, Washington; Salt Lake City, Utah; Chicago, Illinois; New York, NY; Washington D.C.; and Los Angeles CA. I would eventually like to bring the work to Barcelona Spain and Hiroshima Japan.
The juxtaposition of different historical locations, their acoustic properties, the mash-up of those acoustics and how they represent a variety of historical events is part of the equation of what drives these works. The other part of this drive is the semi-autobiographical context of the content. Collectively, these sites symbolize what it means to be Japanese American in many ways and more specifically what it means to be an artist growing up in Los Angeles. The term multi-culturalism is a very popular ideology but I gravitate more towards the term hybridity. Art has the luxury of being about the general and the specific simultaneously and my audio presentations are exactly that. They are general in the sense that they are about acoustic space and how sound is everywhere and that all space contains history. They are specific in that these spaces are personal sacred spaces. They represent my family’s homeland, their immigration and the unique elements of my geographical inspiration.
The shot of Alan walking from the river, Black and Whites is by Tom Clancey
All other by Nakagawa
CONICAL SOUND: SIMON RODIA/ANOTNI GAUDI, 2018
I will present this work on April 4, 2018, 8 PM at Human Resources in Los Angeles.
When I was in the fourth grade (1973) at Wilton Place Elementary School, Los Angeles CA, I was in the library looking through an art book. I came across the work of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona for the first time.
The unusual architecture, organic shapes and use of broken tile was weird and fun but reminded me a bit of our hometown icon, Watts Towers. I thought, did this artist rip off Simon Rodia?
Of course, later I would learn about the chronology of these two artist. There’s a little overlap but it doesn’t look like there’s any connection per se.
In 2012, I saw that there was a grant available through the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of LA, for artist research funds, namely, artist residencies. They had a list of residencies all over the world they already built a relationship with but I thought I would like to go to Barcelona and see the Gaudi’s. It would be my first time in Europe. So, I started to research Gaudi's and Simon Rodia’s history.
If I could conduct a three-point recording of Watts Towers and the Sagrada Familia, I could combine them into a three-speaker project and create a kind of omnipresent sound work that metaphorically would be like introducing them to each other.
Through a multitude of serendipitous connections starting with filmmaker Rebecca Barron, I found myself in contact with curator and writer Montse Romani who introduced my project to the University of Barcelona’s Sound Arts Master’s Program. They read my proposal and accepted the residency. I then proposed it to Cultural Affairs and it was selected. Gaudi went to the University of Barcelona to become the architect he became and the University had direct relationships with most of his buildings; perfect!
On November 8, 2013, I and a stellar group of professors and Sound Art Masters Program Students from the University of Barcelona entered the Sagrada. As the guards ushered the last of the tourists out the door, we were signaled that the church was ours to record. We started at the top level, thirty meters up, with three teams. Using walkie-talkies, I directed the simultaneous recording with Professor Lluis Nacenta, thereby documenting the interior acoustics of the Sagrada Familia. We repeated the process at fifteen meters and on the floor level. It was stressful, glorious and humbling. I will never be able to repay the crew and all that made this possible. It was a once in a life time experience.
When I came back to Los Angeles, Watts Towers Director Rosie Lee Hooks accompanied me inside the walls of the Towers. I conducted a three-point recording of the interior placing recording units at the inside corners of the triangular perimeter wall. The recording turned out wonderfully and captured the concrete wall bouncing the exterior sounds of the neighborhood. On a second occasion, I was allowed to go back and attach contact mics at the bases of the three main towers. This recording seems to have recorded the movement of the Towers. It’s a rather violent recording, different from the first session.
The goal is to present this work, along with a short documentary of the recording sessions in front of an audience, using a three-speaker sound system. The documentary was created by Tom Clancey for KCET TV’s Artbound. https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/alan-nakagawas-conical-sound-project
I performed a preliminary version of this at the Torrance Art Museum in 2014 as part of the REVERB exhibition. This wasn’t the finished version. I worked on the recording on and off but felt that I needed a block of focused time to really do the work justice. I applied to the MacDowell Art Colony, a residency program in New Hampshire. In 2015, I spent six weeks at MacDowell, focused on this recording and completed the final mix.
I wish to present the work at various venues in the future, including somewhere in Barcelona.
Brown Arts Initiative
Photography by Nakagawa
Peace Resonance; Hiroshima/ Wendover and Conical Sound; Antoni Gaudi/ Simon Rodia are made possible in part by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Art Matters, Center for Land Use Interpretation, University of Barcelona, Watts Towers Art Center, City of Hiroshima, Smithsonian Museum of American History, Wendover Airport, KCET, MacDowell Art Colony, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and the Consulate General of Japan