Public Participatory Meeting “Face Meeting” Report

Hereby is a summary of the public participatory meeting, “Face Meeting,” held at SHIBAURA HOUSE on Sunday, June 23rd, 2019.

“masayume” made an open call to recruit “faces” during the period of March 26 to June 30th. Having received faces from all over the world among the young, old, men and women, a Face Meeting was held to seek clues upon selecting the only face from the many through exchanging opinions and ideas from diverse participants. The meeting was live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, where the numbers of viewers summed up to a total of 3400. There were also many comments that came in from the people who viewed the meeting online.

[Part 1] Presentation + Cross Talk

Two guest speakers Hiroshi Harashima (specially appointed professor of Tokyo University, and a member of Japanese Academy of Facial Studies), Shusaku Miyawaki (court sketcher), and the three members of 目 [mé] who planned the project; Haruka Kojin (artist of 目 [mé]), Kenji Minamigawa (director of 目 [mé]), and Hirofumi Masui (installer of 目 [mé]), held a presentation and cross talk. Harashima spoke on facial studies, which developed from research upon putting expressions on portrait photographs and paintings like the Mona Lisa, as well as his activities including face impressionology. Miyawaki spoke on the importance of observation in court sketching where speed is required, and also pointed some questions he has had concerning the art of self-portrait. The comments from the two face experts further highlighted the question “what is a face?” among the audience, both in the venue and online. The members of 目 [mé] spoke on the “confrontation between human and landscape,” which had been a perspective they had been prioritizing on when creating their artwork, and also explained their purpose of “masayume” and the Face Meeting. As same as the fact that no one knows the actual breadth of the universe despite having knowledge of it, Kojin mentioned the project speaks of a situation where “perceptions hinder humans to grasp things,” and that it is about how we can recognize this world while surpassing the subjective perception of ourselves. She continued that one possible response to this question was to depend on the possibility obtained by the innumerable eyes and reactions of others through their refreshing awareness when they would see things for their first time.

For the crosstalk, Harashima answered the essential question “what is a face?” by mentioning that “a face can be seen from various viewpoints due to its impression and relationship.” In response to Minamigawa’s question of “can we see people’s faces without prejudice?,” Miyawaki answered by saying that “the only way would be to look at it without thinking it is a face, and to see it just by its brightness and darkness.” The first section of the event concluded by rediscovering the difficulty of noticing the face without depending on knowledge and information.

Photo: Takahiro Tsushima

[Part 2] Discussion

In the second part of the meeting, the participants were divided into groups, and had group discussions on how the face should be decided. One participant questioned whether it was appropriate for them to discuss and try to decide the face Kojin saw in her dream. Kojin replied to this question that she wanted to rely on the participants’ sensitivity and refreshing responses, which might intuitively appeal to them as “this is the face!” After this, many questions arose from the participants both in the venue and online, including questions such as “Is the facial expression of the face determined?” “Should we choose the face only by its appearance?” “What would happen in the case the selected person passes away before the face floats up?” “What is the reason behind the restriction that the face candidate should be a living person?,” and so on. The members of 目 [mé] replied, and the guest speakers also made their suggestions to these questions.

Eventually, instead of having some faces being specifically selected by the participants, it led into an occasion where they would share their comments and opinions one by one. For example, some commented that “it seems there would be no answer on who we would choose,” or “the face should be someone who can project various expressions and feelings,” or “it should be a face that would stimulate the question of ‘why is this face floating?’” There even was an occasion where a conference participant who also applied as a candidate wished his/her face to be selected to float, and the opinions varied from not only the ones to select but also the perspective of the applicants.

In Preparation for 2020

Although the meeting did not reach a clear conclusion, as various comments and perspectives from diverse backgrounds and interests all intertwined with each other, the Face Meeting provided an occasion to open the process of an artist’s thought in public, enabling people to not only bring back anticipation towards the project but also a chance to continuously think about the topic. A face of one existing person would float up in the sky of Tokyo in the summer of 2020; how would be encountered that day, and what will we see in that floating face? There are even possibilities that your face, your family’s face, or your friend’s face would be selected to float. You might suddenly encounter the scene without knowing the date and time of when it will happen. Or more surprisingly, you could even miss the opportunity to see the floating face at all. Connoting the process until the face would actually float, the project will continue through conducting programs connecting people’s memories and experiences.

text: Moena Murata (masayume office)
translations: Kana Kawanishi, Akinori Kasai [Kana Kawanishi Art Office LLC.]
thumbnail photography: Takahiro Tsushima

Voices from “Face Meeting” Participants (quoted from surveys and online comments)

- I was able to see the process of finding a conclusion from something that didn’t make any sense.
- It was good that I could think about the project in an active way, and not in a passive way.
- As I participated, I realized that it was a very difficult topic.
- The time ran too fast, I wanted to touch even deeper on the topic.
- It was much more incomprehensible than I expected, but much more fun than I expected.
- It was very interesting to see everyone speak out their own opinions; some were similar and some were different from mine.

“Face Meeting” Overview

Date June 23, 2019 (Sun)
(3-15-4 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo)
Content [Part 1] Presentation and crosstalk 13:00-15:00
[Part 2] Discussion 16:00-19:00
Speakers Hiroshi Harashima (specially appointed professor, Tokyo University / member of Japanese Academy of Facial Studies)
Shusaku Miyawaki (court sketcher)
Haruka Kojin (artist, 目 [mé])
Kenji Minamigawa (director, 目 [mé])
Hirofumi Masui (installer, 目 [mé])
Moderator Ryoya Chihara (head of masayume office)
Organizer Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)
Project Creation 目 [mé]
Cooperation P3 art and environment


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