It is the year 2016. One day, I walked into the city centre passing through the crowd. In fact, it was a sunny day at the weekend, so the picture-in-mind about myself was like the character of King Vidor’s most famous film.1 I never hate encounters with strangers, or even the noise auto-co-produced inside this massive live scene. But if there was one thing that bothers me on this stage, it’s how we pass each other carrying such endless but discontinued pieces of words, conversations, lingering eye contact… Like the way a shuffled playlist is controlled by an anxious finger, while the next song button is forever being pressed.
I never get enough but I almost want to slow down, to contemplate, to hear. Where inspirations for an artist are sometimes not ‘found’ or ‘delivered’ but ‘interpreted’, they might always be presented as so called ‘daily common routines’. By even using an actual time-machine, one may go back-and-forth many times with pleasure, but the flow of messes may not change.
My moment with King Vidor was woken up by music. To be more specific, it was hit by a live sequence of sound performance. A street jam of sorts.
A pause in time. With a grateful attitude as a common spectator, I couldn’t help but spur myself on to start making a conversation with the musician:
Hi, it was excellent!
Where are you from?
I’m from the earth.
I laughed, not because I responded to the question with exactly the same answer somewhere in France before that day, but it’s also a very interesting and tough question. Sometimes, the question can be even more difficult:
Where are you from originally?
Where am I from? Where am I from originally? Usually people have different intentions with their questioning. However, supposing these intentions are oriented around location, background, education, nationality… it’s still a question with such complexity. As Taiye Selasi says in her TED talk, “How can I come from a country?”2 A comment from Kim Schur seems functional as a better option:
Is it where you lived the longest, where you went to High School? I would always say that I am not really from anywhere and don’t have an answer for what “home” is. No it’s not the place I live now either… instead of saying I am not from anywhere, I say I am from a bunch of different places.3
Similarly, a bunch of different places is just about where I have been to. If a flashback can be simplified as a thumbnail image of vimeo, I can certainly recall how people talking to me in Korean in the street of Shanghai, having a ‘sous-entendu’ look from other passengers on a squashed morning train in Fukuoka, or so much more often, the way Parisians would ask me about street directions in the city. Those are the moments I positively enjoy at present.
To question the question: What makes someone original? What shapes someone’s originality? I still don’t have an obvious way to illustrate. However, those places I’ve been, those people I’ve met, these moments I’ve live in, somehow become the continuous stream of my own originality.