Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Made in Japan

Recently I had been gah-brooding on trains. Then I was on a train with a sick child and the broodle gah-moodled into a head in the toilet result.

Well I am back on them again! As long as I keep my child off them, all will be well for the broodling.

My recurring thoughts about trains centre on visual artist (and my partner) Jeremy Isao Speier’s new series of kinetic sculptural works Made in Japan. I was at his studio at different times over recent months after quite a long gap and met the new work in different instalments. Some pieces in the series feature photographs of trains, which for some reason take me imaginatively into the industrial decline of the mid west of America. I don’t know why that is, since the series references a Japanese economic time. The sculptures also send me to one of Zola’s openings which I must look up  (The Beast Within?) and Mann’s The Magic Mountain. Entry points.

Today when watching Pialat’s L’amour existe I was struck by how the trains in it divide the piece almost like the turning of a page, the speed at one point of the window passing is deliberately falsified to give an impression of it passing. It has to have been tampered with because it is soo uneven and because I sat on that very train but a few days ago and I know precisely how it moved!

This evening again I was looking at the series at the studio. They feature a rectangular encasement around the photographs, made of perspex, and then I had it! The old trains that ran on the Clapham Junction line used to have individual carriages and in order to see was there any space you had to look in through the closed door. When you looked if a person was in there you’d always the sense of spying and might continue to hunt an empty carriage.

The pieces remind me so much of train carriages, in the way you look into the sculptures so carefully to realize and collaborate with their components and like being an active reader, these pieces offer an active viewing experience and that is why for this viewer they have me travelling so far.

All of the objects are, in actual fact, culled on and around Main Street in Vancouver. (The local being the way  to the general as John McGahern would say or in this case out to the general.)   And as they are motorized they move. The starting point were the motors, I believe, which were all Made in Japan.