In 2005, on the ten-year anniversary of starting my “Wish Project,” I decided to publish a book to collect and commemorate the project and the wishes themselves. I looked through all of the remaining wishes that I still had in order to choose ones for the book. Over the years, I have used many original wishes to create my work, but I still have thousands of wishes, and all along I have kept unique ones. In fact, I was impressed by how much I still own and how much I haven’t read. Although I was inspired to create art using wishes through reading, in the beginning I didn’t want to expose the content of wishes too obviously in my work and I was fading/erasing the texts, allowing them to show only partially. I started to feel strongly that some wishes should be seen by more people than just me. Instead of manipulating by my hand I decided to show my wish collection directly to the public. In the book, I shared 100 wishes collected over ten years.
As a summary of my inquiry, I have found that people are the same in many ways. We wish for basically the same things: happiness, true love, good family relationships, wealth, power, a good career, achievement, etc. We wish for something we don’t have. We wish to remove hardship. However, I enjoyed seeing different kinds of expressions, humor, and honesty by reading individual wishes. Although the idea of my project came from a Shinto tradition my work has nothing to do with religion; rather, I am looking for my own way to connect people in the world and universe. I respect traditionally existing religions all over the world but I never feel I can belong to any one of them. My belief is something ordinary and comes from everyday life. A trivial thing can be important. I will call it “Spirituality and Popular Culture.” There are many people who didn’t take my project seriously but even more who positively participated in my project. Even the people who don’t think that their wishes are going to come true, by writing their wishes and tying them to a tree, they played a game with me, they enjoyed experiencing something they have never done before.
The most impressive experience I had while collecting wishes was when I set up a sign, paper and pens during the winter along a fence on the Chicago lakefront and left them for a couple days. It was a snowy time in Chicago and I could not walk around to collect wishes. When I went back to the site I saw many paper ties all over the fence. All the paper I prepared was used up and some chocolate wrappers and Dunkin Donuts napkins were tied on to the fence. These had wishes on them too. I have never forgotten how shocked I was to see that response from people whom I didn’t know. I was very encouraged and simultaneously I felt a strange power that kept me from taking down all of them. I left half of them until they were gone. I have thought a lot about what I can do with these wishes after collecting them. I am not a God and I can’t make all those wishes come true. But, as an artist I can create art by honoring their wishes. I have been considering five common themes to create my work:
1. In order to have a wide range of people as viewers, no matter their age, sex, and nationality, I look for some kind of universal expression
2. I am interested in impermanent work that will disintegrate naturally
3. I want to create art that visually and conceptually ties two cultures, the US and Japan
4. I want to create forms that are relevant to the idea of “wish”
5. I am dealing with three things that, in Japanese, are all pronounced kami: paper, hair, and god
The book represented both an end and beginning for my project. I have tried to expand my research to other countries and through other media. Since I changed the direction of the project, it was important to me to preserve some special wishes. My book was a way to preserve what I have done.
I have so many people whom I would like to thank for supporting my project in the collecting process, the creating process, and in showing my work in exhibitions. I must not forget about the people who participated in my project. I will not see most of these people again but, I would like to think that some may find my book some day such as the people who found my Wish Tying project on the fence. Thank you all very much.
Below are some sample pages from the book: