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Looking for Hikari-chan
Illustrations for a HD video with sound
(work in progress)
In my latest project called Looking for Hikari-chan, I’m exploring a lonely hikikomori’s friendship with an artificial intelligence as a sole companion. The term Hikikomori is used in Japan for a person who suffers from severe social isolation. Hikikomoris rarely, if ever, leave their homes, and often turn to technology and the internet to find safety and meaning for their lives. For marginalized people, the virtual world and the friendships made there are often more important than the physical world and the beings that belong there. Through this piece I’m pondering the value of physical relationships to virtual ones, and whether virtual relationships can offer meaning and value to one’s life.
During the pandemic, the idea of living life virtually led me watching YouTube videos of people filming themselves walking across the cities in Japan. At the time, this was the only way for me to experience these places and be connected to the outside world. Would a hikikomori who hasn't left his room for several months be interested in his surroundings at all? Would they like to see the world, but are unable to due to their personal problems? With these questions, I’ve created a fictional story in which I’ve connected the hikikomoris and the walking videos together.
The work follows the relationship of a lonely hikikomori with his hologram AI friend Hikari-chan. Hikari-chan is a more advanced virtual assistant similar to Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa, who is hikikomori’s only friend. However, due to a short circuit, Hikikomori loses his friend and ends his isolation by going outside to look for her. The choreography for the hikikomori’s search route is originally filmed in Sapporo, Japan, which I found from YouTube. The years of isolation have distorted hikikomori's sense of reality, and it is not clear to the public whether the hikikomori lives in the forest of Finland or in the busy Sapporo of Japan. The end result is a forest walk, where the sounds of the city of Sapporo echo in Finland's snowy forest, and where the colorful billboards of Sapporo flicker from the leaves of the trees.
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