The Japanese cineaste Yasujiro Ozu stages the dialogues in such a way that the personages avoid looking at each other. During a conversation they find themselves next to each other, looking in the same direction. These, as theJapanese film critic Tadao Sato writes: ‘are dialogues whereby the personagessit next to each other in a room with a view of the garden and talking together, meanwhile their view is unanimously directed towards the garden. Or dialogues where the personages sit on an incline, or a border and talk to eachother whilst looking together at the surface of a river’.
Sima Oqun sent on 13 November 1928 a postcard from Japan addressed Marq. Holtring, Amsterdam Netherlands Europe via Siberia, depicting a woody landscape that, en route, has undergone a miraculous metamorphosis. The thin winter landscape – no leaves on the trees – consists of dark boles in the foreground, through which a silver path, or small stream zigzags continuously far away between the trees, disappearing into the mist.
On the foreground in the same brown as the photo, a stamp full of signs and secret languages has been glued, and on top is stamped again with a red circle, also full of signs, beams and depictions. The transparent stamp frames the running stream, a frame within which our thoughts can enter, because we stay in the red circle at the heart of the landscape, in the running stream of light.
I imagine our conversation looks into this landscape. Although beside each other we ask ourselves how to get closer, beyond the limits of our world-view. Because our view is identical, we know that our eyes, together with the stream, will unify in the distance. There we will meet each other, even though we are still apart.
I remember a similar game like this. When you are the one – we have drawn lots – you attempt to tap my shadow, I try this will not happen. I will move as fast as light, so that my shadow becomes smaller, so that you are always between the light and me. That’s very difficult because I have to run away from you but also have to look for you. I remember that this game was the most difficult during the early morning or the late afternoon. At midday it’s easier, because the shadow is shortened, or almost absent. But at that moment it’s the hottest and so we then took a break in the shadow of leaves under a big tree.
Mademoiselle J. Backx, from the Rue de l’Aigle in Antwerp, received on 17 March 1914 a postcard from Cairo, sent on the 12th. On the foreground is the profile of a sphinx, as a big sundial in the desert. Somewhere towards the left, at the top, the sun shines, outside the picture. On the top right top a postman has been ordered for two milliemes, who has put a black sun with the characters CAIR, just inside the edge, above the horizon of the far away mountains.
In the Theban version of the Egyptian Book of Death, the departed human prays: “O don’t keep my soul imprisoned, don’t save my shadow, but open a way for my soul and shadow.” I try to imagine how the Sphinx’s face – surely one of the strangest creatures on earth – looks continuously in one direction, into the sun, as a supplication, because I recognize myself and know that as long I go towards the light, my shadow will follow. When it is your turn, you try to tap my shadow and I try my hardest not let this happen.