Consuming an Aesthetic

I’ve thought a lot these last few days about how I want to start my blog posts. I need something genuine, and raw, and vulnerable, but at the same time something that mirrors the aestheticism of this experiences so far. It needs to contain both in meaning and feeling an experience of alienation, and inattentive welcoming, and deeply comfortable urbanity.

…and so, I write without censoring, without editing, and with particular attention to sound.

It has been almost exactly nine days that I have drifted around Tokyo. A nine days marked by the intention to consume, absorb, and interpret, with the hopes of finding a footing in a space that feels deeply foreign. It has been about finding impressions, both my own and the impressions left by the people of Tokyo. Consuming and reacting to an aesthetic, a set of vibrations, noises, rhythms, patterns that denote this space.


It is from these impressions that I am able to build an ethno-artistic interpretation of my experience. One grounded in the particulars of Tokyo.

This process of impression finding feels particularly relevant to my study of street art and graffiti, an art form that is deeply intertwined with the interlocking complexity of the urban space from which it is born. Graffiti styles that have arisen from New York to Barcelona to Rio de Janeiro, all exist as symptoms of the local urban-cultural landscape, and thus if I am to understand the vernacular graffiti of Tokyo I have to first feel and absorb this landscape.

My introduction to freeganism in Tokyo has been a slightly more legalistic process; researching how the citizens and city manage waste; delving into the virtual networks that connect otherwise unrelated freegans; observing how dumpster diving fits into a wider societal understanding of cleanliness and sanitation. It has been a slow-moving process to far, however, I have little doubt that a shift in momentum is coming.


I want end by addressing a more introspective element of the experience thus far. With the hopes of understanding how I am changing over the course of this trip, I have been attempting to interrogate the prejudices, anxieties, gray spaces, resistances that I bring into each new place. This has been one of the most interesting parts of the whole experience. Japan feels deeply foreign, more so than other places I have travelled. Foreign, but not silencing. A foreignness ingrained with possibility. Welcoming, in a way that does not place me in the center; passive welcoming; dismissive care.


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