Wednesday, June 29, 2005

100,000 chopsticks

100,000 chopsticks
Originally uploaded by Waribashi Project.
Here is one of the staff at Kushi Tsuru adding to yesterday's's pickup.She said she wanted a copy of this photo.

I spent about 4 hours washing yesterday - just two bins worth. I am still behind, but today we made the 100,000 mark. Indigo keeps asking me when I am going stop. I want to have 200,000 or stop by July 25th whichever comes first.

During the last week of July, I am moving the project into Nikkei Traditions, a vacant storefront in the Miyako section of the mall which is ideal for the studio and gallery.

My physical therapist was explaining to me why I have continued to have hip and knee pain since my last visit. "You just don't know how to take care of yourself." She says I have to block time in for yoga and swimming and all the exercise I used to do before this project revved up. I have been feeling that the problem of disposables - chopsticks and all the rest - is so huge, so much bigger than me and what this project can do. And so, I have been feeling overwhelmed by the amount. How can I keep up?

I have been walking around wondering what impact all this could really have. Its so easy for everyone to pretend there is no problem without making the slightest change in their lifestyles. Everywhere, people are eating merrily without carrying their own chopsticks, drinking from plastic bottles, eating from styrofoam containers, throwing away over-packaged take-out. Am I just spinning my wheels? There is a mountain of waste so much greater than what I am collecting. Its kind of a nightmare, like I am trying to spin straw into gold.

If there is nothing really forcing the issue - trees, waste, global warming - only a few seem to change. There is a force of consumption creating oceans of garbage. At the SF Dump, they get receive 2100 tons of garbage each day.

David Suzuki said he didn't believe adults would change. I don't want to believe it. I want to believe that adults can motivate and change their behaviors. I want to believe that people will get it.

I am thankful today that I had the help of the JCCCNC's new interns, Matt and Lynn. We washed about 6,000 chopsticks so fast. I was so relieved for the help. There's still more on the way.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

10,000+ drying outside today

Thanks to Judy, those 10,000+ 'sticks got put away. 3 and 1/4 boxes she said. Jackson, Brendan and I were putting them out to dry during the Kendo class at the center. Its part of the Kendo practice to wail during a strike of the bamboo sword thing. It was a very dramatic soundtrack to our task. Now Indigo is watching a Kurosawa film, "The Seven Samurai", and again there is a lot of dramatic wailing and screaming. This is how I feel about chopsticks right now. I think I may not ever want to see one again after this is all over. Ahhhhh!!!!


Volunteers keep me from drowning

My nephew Brendan (13) helped me collect today. He looks very cheerful doing such a crazy obsessive activity with his auntie. I am feeling the weight of these 'sticks, so I had him push the cart. We are behind schedule in washing and so tomorrow morning (Saturday) I will be washing just to keep up. Yesterday, he and another volunteer, Jackson, and I washed about 10,000+ and set them out to dry. It must have been about 3.5 hours in labor. I will have an approximate count tomorrow. We are using an anti-mold spray to prevent that mold thing from happenning.

But like I said, I am feeling the weight. Indigo asked me how long I was going to keep on collecting. I just don't feel like I am done yet.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Chopsticks sets

Chopsticks sets
Originally uploaded by Waribashi Project.
Here are the chopsticks sets available for $5 each or 10 for $50. All the proceeds come back to the project.--

Deinstalling the Project Launch

You can see me deinstalling the show and the relative size of the form of one part of this installation.--

Detail of sculpture

Detail of sculpture
Originally uploaded by Waribashi Project.
Here is a detail shot of part of the installation. Tracy Storer has photographed a small series of this sculpture - 20 x 24 polaroids from the giant camera - that are available for purchase.


Project Launch photos/Call for Volunteers

Here is a photo of the installation at 60,000+.

The collection is continuing and its been challenging. It is very tiring to do alone. So if you or anyone out there would like to volunteer with the washing, that would be so helpful.

We have added 3 new restaurants in our collection process - Izumiya, Juban and Umeko. Many restaurants may have a decal in the window to let customers know that they are in the project, so you can look or ask for that when you go to Jtown.

Chopstick sets are available for $5 each. Great for stocking stuffers and other gifts.--

Monday, June 06, 2005

Forest Therapy

Forest Therapy
Originally uploaded by Waribashi Project.
I was talking to someone at the gallery yesterday who said that there was a link between the fall of the Mayan civilization and deforestation. Because of this conversation I looked around a little online.

NASA archeologist Tom Server, has used satellite date with archeological findings and is theorizing a combination of factors - dense population, change in rainfall patterns with the root cause being chronic food and water shortage, due to drought and deforestation. I found this on what looks like some students' site.The Earth Policy Institute has a curriculum that also discusses the fall of civilizations due to environmental insustainability. National Geographic talks about Mayans and Climate Change.

Today Indigo and I went hiking for some forest therapy. The weather was perfect. I felt the cool cover of the trees, the quietness of the forest floor, and the quality of the air that can only happen in a forest. I can't imagine life without forests. I am going to make more time for these special places this summer.


Project Launch Show has been extended

The Project Launch Show has been extended thru until June 13th! Gallery hours are 11am-5pm.

Here's a photo of Tracy Storer and his Mammoth Camera, a giant polaroid that outputs 20x24 prints. He took a series of prints that are for sale. One is a detail shot of the small swirly sculpture (which you can see on the wall behind him) and the other is a large view of the whole installation. The camera was a big toy with custom parts and a big roll of paper. It was great fun to watch him work and Tracy loves his job!

Thanks to all the visitors who stopped by today, Many saw the Chronicle article from Saturday's Datebook.


Sunday, June 05, 2005

Waribashi Alternatives - What are they?

I would like to put out a call for ideas regarding alternatives to using disposable utensils - chopsticks, plastic, etc... If you have any ideas please send them to me and I will post some in this blog.

In the above photo, I am trying to figure out what the heck I can do with the chopsticks during installation. It appears that the chopsticks don't stick to each other as well. The humidity level is much lower than in Japan during the rainy season when I first piloted the project. Also the ratio of wood to bamboo is different in thismix. More bamboo chospticks than wood, so they slid around more.

I will be at the gallery on Sunday, the last day of the show. I'll be selling chopsticks sets if anyone is interested.

The project was featured in the Saturday, June 4 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle which can be seen on SF Gate Datebook..


Saturday, June 04, 2005

Getting into the Habit of Carrying Chopsticks

Indigo and I went to dinner in Jtown this evening after a long day of art-related errands. After we walked a block, I realized that I left the car without my Hello Kitty utensil kit (chopsticks, fork andspoon). We were already having trouble figuring out what to eat because we were hungry. For a split second we contemplated going to a non-Japanese chain restaurant.

"What an outrage!" I said. "We're not going to a chain just because I left my chopsticks in the car." Indigo thought this was very funny since we had just spent about 5 minutes walking back and forth indecisively. So, of course, we turned around, got the chopsticks, and ate with our own utensils at Mifune's. It was great because Indigo discovered the Soba Salad entree neither of us had ever tried before.

I don't think it makes sense to not go to a restaurant that uses chopsticks just because I forgot to bring my own. Really, it occured to me that we could have just asked for silverware for crying out loud. So it would have worked out anyway. But there are a number of things to consider here. Its kinda weird being Japanese American and asking for a fork in a Japanese restaurant. (A little internalized racism, if you know what I mean). And chopsticks are part of the experience of the food, so whether you are Japanese or not, if you know how to use chopsticks, you want to use them. Besides you can't really eat very efficiently if you don't use them. So, I can see how its difficult to ask for a fork. But I am trying to see what it is like to make this change of habit of relying on disposables because its convenient. In which case, I should ask for silverware.

It takes time to adjust to carrying my own utensils even while I am< doing this project. But since it started, I have used my own utensils every time. David Suzuki said in his recent lecture in San Francisco that adults are the hardest to change. Kids get it right away, but adults are stubborn and don't want to adapt. I think this is where environmentalists have to work the hardest.

I have been thinking about how to make carrying my own utensils easier. One thing would be to put clean utensils out by the entryway of the house, so that I grab them when I go out. I could also keep them in my car. My mom always puts written reminders for herself on the front door. Maybe I need that too.

Oh and by the way, The Waribashi Project is selling chopstick sets in a bamboo box for $5 each.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Report from the Project Launch

The opening reception went well thanks to Red Ink Studios and everyone who worked hard to make it happen. I will post photos when the show is done. There are still a few days left, so check it out in person. But I am exhausted.

One of the things that exhausts me is watching viewers who are completely oblivious to the fragility of art. I mean wine and sculpture just don't go together. One guy put his foot right through one of my pieces and then made a bee-line for the door. Nope, he wasn't going to say a thing to anyone. My poor girlfriend was a complete wreck after trying to police people and their children and their dogs (dogs at a gallery opening - I don't get it) from toppling over pieces, picking at the work trying to pull chopsticks out, etc. Talk about untrained art viewers.

So, one of the lessons here is crowd control for the masses. One artist suggested putting up an electric fence. Another talked about an annoying alarm system. Indigo suggested Indiana Jones-like boobie traps with poison darts and spears. Hmm.. Just a little hostility toward the viewer. Gallery rage, you might say. An interesting theme for a show, I think. A barrier for the sculpture is a good idea though. What form that will take, I don't know yet.

What seems to happen with my sculptures (and I think this is a good thing) is that people want to touch it or interact with it. The untrained and unsupervised viewer, unfortunately, tends to destroy. I am thinking that people are like this with the environment in general too. And so, it is part of the educational process we have to go through. But training of some kind needs to happen. The state of art education today in the USA. Sigh.

I did have some good conversations about chopsticks. People, especially women, get really fired up about the absurdity of environmental destruction for a short-term profit.

The Project also has been listed as one of the picks of the week by the SF Weekly. Its funny reading too as it is full of wild inaccuracies. Just for the record, I have been collecting chopsticks for only 3 weeks (not for many years unless you include the couple of years its taken to find funding) from 9 Jtown restaurants and its about 60,000+ right now. Collection has been halted for 2 weeks because of the UNWED conference but will resume next week after the show comes down.