The Circle

 

   The title derives from the play, the Circle, by W. Somerset Maugham. The story revolves around the British upper class, and it begins where a woman who left her son and eloped with her husband’s friend 30 years earlier receives an invitation to the mansion of her son’s family with the man she eloped with. The play depicts dramas that go on for several days where her ex-husband and other guests join. Nothing special happens, and the story develops mainly with people’s emotions, including rumors, past memories, and the woman’s wavering mind. The play ends with a scene where her son’s wife elopes with her son’s friend.It is, after all, a melodrama with no detectives and no actions.

   When I went to the zoo, I often read books by Maugham on trains, going and returning. I especially like the simplicity of the Circle, which one can correctly guess the finale of the story just by reading the title. In the early stages of the production, I was thinking to name it the same. However, the Japanese title of the Circle, “hitomeguri (making a round),” sounds like it is limited in time and also it carries a sense of completion, which does not necessarily align with the purport of my photo book. Words such as circulation, round, or “making a circle…” seem like carrying a nuance of incomplete time and would match with my intention.

   In a zoo, there are a world of humans and another world of animals. What divides the two worlds is not only the biological recognition that differentiates “human” and “livings other than humans” but also the physical separations like cages, fences, or tempered glasses. Zoos would not function without these physical separations. The absolute imbalance of power exists because humans created zoos for themselves. It is not that humans built fences on a mutual agreement of humans and animals, or that habitat segregation spontaneously created some sort of boundaries. The boundaries are similar to the one between us photographers and an object. The existence of a boundary actualizes and conceptualizes phenomena and elements as separated individuals. As I bear this concept in mind, I simultaneously perceive myself as a human on this side, outside of a fence, and also as a living, on the other side, inside the fence. The two perceptions coexisting within me sometimes gives me unique effects. In the background is a pond with a turtle in the warm spring sunlight, and the humans on this side are extremely busy, looking like a fast-forwarded video, which makes me feel the other side, over the fences, is more real. The neck of a Japanese pond turtle is getting longer towards the direction of the pleasant spring sunlight, and the several centimeters of the neck bring me a perception of time that is primordial and different from the human-created time like one minute, one second. The more reliable perception of time on the other side. (An excerpt from the afterword of the photo book, the Circle.)

 

  Codicil : In each picture, I capture three existences: humans, animals, and fences that divide the two, as three different layers like the layer function of Photoshop. This is the same with the perspective in Planet Fukushima, which is consisted of foreground, middle-distance, and background. The existence of fences in middle-distance in the Circle is, in Planet Fukushima, the existence of the radioactivity that divides humans in foreground and scenery in background.