The First Hinoemata Performance Festival
Hinoemata River, Fukushima, Japan
Aug.25-26, 1984
From 'The Performance'
The Situation in Japan Today

Susumu Kobayashi
director/critic of performance art

Contemporary problems regarding ecology is the main theme of Ichi Ikeda, who started his Performances in the 1980╣s. Before that, Ikeda was a member of the Drama world. Even then, the unrestricted uniqueness of his activities, his freedom from trite conventions was already apparentőfor instance, Ikeda once held events on a desert island.

It is possible to see a complex, multi-faceted message from the way Ikeda╣s Performance has developed over the years. There were Performance highly critical of conceptual, established art. There were │Action▓ projects, aiming to unearth │collaboration▓ with the audience, or │participants▓. There were new attempts at improvisation. There were Performance plans to encourage individual means of expression.

┼@Ikeda╣s scope is wide. He is trying to solve various problems that the 'experimental theatres' of the 60's tried to realize, as well as problems that come with conceptual art, and minimalism. Part of these series of Performance includes the Performances with the theme of environmental issues.

The Water Piano (concept announced in 1982) is one of these. The │water surface▓ becomes a piano keyboard. Delicate changes spreading over the water surface (waves, sounds, the volume of sound) are lured into the open. Chains of thought on the various meanings and concepts of water are pursued. One typical example is the Performance of 1984, on the Hinoemata River (in the Fukushima prefecture).
(extract from │PERFORMANCE NOW▓ 1986)
Water Piano series
Blue Hands
Beyond contamination
Acoording to Ikeda, the Water Piano recital consists of three parts.
┼˙In the first movement, blue hands peacefully play on a Water Piano which has a blue, clear surface, not yet contaminated.
┼˙The second movement takes place while the water is dirtied by mud, ashes and other elements found in nature.
┼˙The third movement is played while soap suds, waste and other man-made pollution invades the water.
┼˙Finally, in water that is darkly polluted, the
blue hands seem to shine out, bluer than ever.

Performance 'Water Mirror' in the Hinoemata River

Delicate spreading over the water surface (wave, sounds, the volume of sound) are lured into the open.
Chains of thought on the various meanings and concepts of water are pursued.

"Water Piano" is an ever-changing instrument, and its performance are always impromptu depending on the surrounding environment.

Water Piano is a device for trying to recallour memories of places through water which has been circulating all over the earth, and at the same time, Ichi Ikeda tries to draw our attention to the fact that our body has been also letting in and out water for so many generations.

For those who want
to play the "Water Piano",
I have to say, "forget all scores remaining
in your mind and head."
And I'll ask you to play the "Water Piano"
only depending on impulse arising
from yourself.

The clear surface of the water swelled suddenly and became ferociously rough. Then it changed calm and clear as a mirror. Water has two natures and is filled with chaos. I think, therefore, water is a medium to recognize the mutual relationship between nature and mankind. 'Water Piano' is the first step of the │Ikeda Water▓ project and the first performance in which I used water.
The flow of the Hinoemata River was likened to the keyboard of a piano. I vocalized to the sky from the foot of the mountains to │declare the coexist-ence in these chaotic days.▓
To Ikeda, a Performance is │unraveling through collaboration, together with the people who are present▓.