Air Pressure

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“”Air Pressure” is a collaboration between Rupert Cox and Angus Carlyle. “Air Pressure” is primarily based around two periods of field work in Japan, one scheduled to coincide with the harvest in 2010 and one coinciding with the sowing season of 2011. All the recordings were made on the site of the last farming family – of the estimated 360 who arrived after WWII – who continue to make their livelihood from an organic small-holding with fields of fruit and vegetables, pens of pigs and a barn with egg-laying hens. The farmers had spent 20 years turning cedar forest and scrub into productive arable land, the fertility of the soil derived from the weathering of volcanic ash sent up by the eruptions of Mt. Fuji.

And then, in 1966, the Japanese Government set about securing farming land in the village of Sanrizuka and the hamlet of Toho in order to build what was then called the New Tokyo International Airport. A bitter struggle played its violent way out over the next 12 years until the airport opened in May 1978 (with repercussions simmering well beyond that date). Farmers and their supporters built tunnel complexes, ‘fortress towers’ and chained themselves to trees; the police used water cannon, baton charges and, at one point, more than 200 construction vehicles in an effort to clear the site.

There were deaths on both sides. The farm where we lived and worked is almost completely engulfed by the architecture of the airport. More than this, the environment is frequently submerged beneath the swirling, blurring din of taxiing jets, a din that is punctuated by the roaring descent of planes shuddering their shiny bulk through the sky some 80 metres above ground.

Amidst all this, the farmers – Shimamura-San, Fujiko-San and their two sons – continue to grow their 50 varieties of vegetables, supported by feelings of solidarity and committed to making things o-shi (“delicious”).

“Air Pressure” has been a single-screen film (shown at the 2011 Ethnographic Film Festival), an installation at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester and is now this book and CD.

The acoustic scientist Professor Kozo Hiramatsu was a close collaborator throughout the project, with us at the farm in 2011. In 2010 we also worked with Associate Professor Toshihito Matsui (Kyoto University). Our fieldwork was coordinated on the ground with Project Manager Naoki Hayashi. Asako Murakami provided invaluable translation support and Kaori Inomata produced the incredible illustrations for the installation structure. David Morris at the Whitworth Gallery was a clever and insightful curator.

Our work was generously funded by a grant from The Wellcome Trust.

We dedicate this CD to the Shimamura family in our appreciation for the warm, inspiring welcome they offered us.”