Everyone “knows” that China is badly polluted. I’ve written over the years, and still believe, that environmental sustainability in all forms is China’s biggest emergency, in every sense: for its people, for its government, for its effect on the world. And yes, I understand that the same is true for modern industrialized life in general. But China is an extreme case, and an extremely important one because of its scale.
The Distance of a Day, 2013
Two iphones, Two videos, 12 minutes each
In early February I asked my mom to go and watch the sunset and make a video. She did this from the Palos Verdes Peninsula, where I used to watch the sunset when I lived in California. She made the video with her iPhone taped to a metal barrier that protects people from falling over the cliffs.
In synchronicity with her, I too was looking at the sun and making a video. From my perspective the sun was rising. I had calculated where the the sun would be seen as rising at the exact same moment it was seen as setting in Los Angeles. In early February this was the Maldives, a location which may not exist in the near future due to the rising of the seas.
As my mom watched the sun set into the Pacific Ocean, I was watching it rise over the Laccadive Sea. Synoptic is a useful term here. It comes from the Greek syn, meaning “together”, and optic, meaning “seen”. Though separated by thousands of miles, we were watching the sun together.
The title, The Distance of a Day, is a reference to the idea of the journey. Originally, journey meant the distance one traveled in a day. Here, the spatial distance that separated my mother and myself was not defined by the distance one could travel in a day, but by the day itself. By the delimitations of a day - where the sun rises and where the sun sets.
Phones were chosen to make (and display) the video because they are devices that orient us spatially and temporally. They are like contemporary pocket-watches and compasses that we carry with us. They coordinate and synchronize us. They broadcast moments instantaneously across distances. Or, what seems to be instantaneously. There is always some delay.
The same two phones that were used to shoot the videos, that were once on opposite sides of the world, are now used to display the videos. They are now only inches away.
Right now somewhere the sun is simultaneously setting and rising. Someone or something is probably bearing witness to this.
the best of tumblr confusion
YOU FORGOT THE BEST ONE
god damn it
That one time I forgot the word for penguin so I called it an Antarctican Snow Bird…