NO, 2003
HD, 5 minutes (clip)

NO was originally inspired by the avant-garde practice of No-no Ikebana. No-no Ikebana, ‘Ikebana of agriculture,’ is a free style form of Japanese flower arranging in which the farmer draws inspiration from materials on the farm. I was particularly interested in No-no Ikebana as a cultural practice because it highlights a relationship to nature and farming that is somewhat contrary to the overly mechanized large-scale agribusiness prevalent in the United States. In the course of my research on various farms within the No-no Ikebana communities in Japan, my focus for NO changed from the practice of No-no Ikebana to landscape painting.

NO is a fixed-frame landscape painting seen through time on film. Costumes were designed to match the soft light and fall colors in which the farmers were filmed. Opening with a characteristic landscape in the background and freshly tilled fields in the foreground, the two farmers enter the back edge of the field on either side, dropping regularly spaced piles of hay. The farmers work their way forward in lines across the field, creating piles that compensate for the perspectival foreshortening of the camera’s optics. After reaching the front they begin spreading the hay, covering the field with an even coating. The result is a choreographed version of their daily work and a visual interaction with the landscape.