Buranko screenshot

I haven’t posted in a long while, and a lot has been going on, what with me coming to Japan to study. I guess I should start at the earliest since the last I wrote.

In my last post I presented a video reel that I made as part of the application process for the program I am currently studying. Another part of that process was the creation of an audiovisual piece based on any of a short selection of poems and fragments of prose—of course, in Japanese. The one I settled for is one Arakawa Youji’s Gallery (ギャラリー).

Although I have functional Japanese, enough to survive in most situations I’m confronted with at school, work, and otherwise daily life, reading poetry offers a different challenge altogether. This was one of my first times reading Japanese poetry, so I went with the one that most clearly brought an image to my mind. The poem uses strongly visual, and purposefully childish language; it speaks of a lover ably using a swing at a park, and the narrator failing to. At least on a superficial level, it’s about (lacking) self-esteem in front of an overwhelmingly capable partner. I can’t claim to have read it very deeply, and I don’t know the author. But I decided to take it up on the self-depreciation note. And so as to see what people were being frustrated about, I made a visualization of current Twitter tweets that contain the words ‘failure’, ‘ashamed’, or ‘afraid’, and putting them pretty literally on a swing. I wasn’t coming up with a compelling interpretation of the texts, so I brought in help in the form of live data, for a voyeuristic element. I took a screen capture of it and sent it to the school, but of course made the actual software available online:

See Buranko (web; source)

Actually, after considering the poem’s title a bit as well, it just occurred to me that it might just be about impostor syndrome