a tangle of blue and white frayed fishing rope on a black volcanic rock on a beach in Japan

Ukiyo, floating world

for violin, shamisen, voice, bass koto, percussion, piano & & video projection [28′] 2019.

Funding: The Canada Council for the Arts
Premiere: Thin Edge New Music Collective & Urbanvessel.  Ongaku Festival, September 22, 2019 at 918 Bathurst, Toronto

Ukiyo, floating world is a poetic contemplation of the detritus of our disposable economy, inspired by improvisations with marine plastic pollution in Japan.

“Ukiyo” or “The Floating World” was the name given to the pleasure quarters of 17th century Edo, Kyoto and Osaka. For over 250 years, beautiful volumes of woodblock prints celebrated this world. “Ukiyo can also mean “sad troublesome world.” Wading knee deep in the plastic trash of our contemporary “floating world”, sadness is hard to resist. But “Ukiyo” can also mean “going with the flow”, sparking the transformation from a perception of abandonment to one of beauty. Playing the ocean’s garbage, we were enthralled: from the sonic boom of plastic fishing floats, the screech of styrofoam buoys, and the rippling ridges of packing crates, to the rattle of gaudy plastic cigarette lighters and the resonance of hollow pipes.

Ukiyo, floating world creates a dialogue between live musicians and video footage of this new “floating world”. Many thanks to Thin Edge New Music Collective for joining us as we enter unknown waters. 

Composer & Artistic Director, Urbanvessel: Juliet Palmer
Designer: Sonja Rainey
Video Editing & Projections: Sonja Rainey
Videography: Sonja Rainey & Juliet Palmer
Violin: Ilana Waniuk
Shamisen & Voice: Aki Takahashi
Bass Koto: Miyama McQueen-Tokita
Percussion: Germaine Liu
Piano: Cheryl Duvall
Cultural consultant: Yo Utano