Spelling Dystopia, 2008,
Several places that were once hallmarks, centers of political culture, avant-garde art, and social developments, have become more or less temporally blind spots in contemporary society. With our work we want to bring them back to today`s consciousness in their altered, mystified phases: not utopian anymore, not obsolete, but rather not yet redefined.
Our new film project focuses on the public perception of the uninhabited island Hashima near Nagasaki, which has a vivid history. Like in our previous work, we are interested in the aspect of collective memory and the insecurities of evocation and transmission of memories.
Hashima has been an important location for Japanese coal-mining until 1974. It is a man-made artificial island, based on the use of concrete which was a newly discovered construction material in 1916, when the construction started. During the World War II it was a work camp for war prisoners from Korea and China, later in the 60s it became the most dense place on earth. With a size of only 160 x 450 m the island was inhabited by over 5000 people in its best times, working in the Mitsubishi-owned coalmine. The density of
the population was higher than in Tokyo`s most crowded parts today. From 1974 the island was abandoned cause the resources were exploited. Today the island is uninhabited and the concrete-architecture is left to natural erosion. In the year 2000 it became the film location of a science fiction blockbuster "Battle Royale", and came back into the japanese consciousness, with a different connotation. The younger generation started to know the place mostly from movies, mangas and video games, as an abandoned ghost island.
In our film, we combine the memories of a former inhabitant of the island - the son of a coal miner, who lived on Gunkanjima until 1974, and who is leading an organisation today, with the aim of preserving Gunkanjima as a world heritage site - with the narration of two high school students who recall fragments of the movie "Battle Royale". Thereby, the island appears almost as their fantasy, an imaginary playground for their games, where various images and layers of reality and fiction already got in a state on mingling.