A Thought on Observing Time No.69

Beeswax・Wood・Lead・Rosin・Acorn / 30 x 22 x 9 cm / 2012


A Thought on Observing Time After 3.11


My eye was once caught by a photograph of very beautiful small flowers printed in a newspaper. I thought it was a picture of flowers but when I looked closer I realised that it was a photomicrograph of a type of metal. In a world that is magnified two thousand times, entities exist with shapes like ‘ strange flowers ’, their appearance is that of flowers blooming in our natural and visible world. They so closely resembled natural flowers that in my imagination I developed the idea that they might have had the same kind of lives in a world that I cannot see.

The Great East Japan Earthquake took place on the 11th March 2011 and triggered a number of nuclear accidents. It has inevitably caused me to consider invisible materials. Invisible radioactive materials such as caesium and iodine seem to be always floating in the air around us. Is there a lot or not very much? How long could it affect us for? I can never know the real truth. This is a reality that I have suddenly been faced with and there is no way of escaping from it. In such circumstances when I cannot see the truth, it is only negative images that prevail.

This terrifying phenomenon has made me constantly aware that the world is not only constituted of the what that human eye can see. These invisible materials, which now exist in the same space where we live, sneak inside all of our lives. I have heard that they accumulate in our bodies over a long period of time and then some day will appear as clear scars. I can have only heart breaking pains about the frightening reality of the future that is creeping quietly closer.

The source of the invisible materials is the nuclear reactors which we can no longer approach. It is said that in these reactors the radioactive materials have still quietly kept their energy, one beyond human knowledge as if a black hole has been created on the earth and an unknown world unfolding inside the hole. It may be beyond humankind’s capability to know the true potential of the infinite energy that today’s scientists and engineers cannot control, just as it is beyond our ability to understand the outside of the universe. We may see more scenes of ‘strange flowers’ blooming in this unexplored world.

There is freedom for us to cultivate our imagination about a world that nobody can touch. I hope that it is stimulating my dreams and inspiring my mind to imagine an unknown world in the same way that it is to think of the universe. However, the more I think about the place to which we are very near, yet we cannot reach, the further I develop a hopeless imagination. Is it because we are aware that the situation will continue to require of us an endless burden in the future? Shall we continue to live accepting a world that is changing according to people’s desires? Or shall we seek a new way of life?

I would like to consider the nuclear accident as being an opportunity for us to really think about the future. I cannot help hoping that the flowers of the future will have the same appearance as those of the past and present.

Masaaki Ohya on the 9th of May, 2012