OV: Physics seems to be a memorial exploration, an autobiographical text that could include dream tales. During the reading, there’s also the strange way that the text deals with the photographies. How did you write / read / designed it?
Gaye Chan : I will answer the second half of the question regarding the photographs.
I have an enormous collection of photographs, primarily amateur snapshots. For Physics I sorted out a large group that in some way show travel, movement, mobility - that also show the horizon. None was intended to directly respond to the text.
There were three hard rules I made in the organizational structure: 1- the photographs would be printed in actual size - meaning that I also could not reduce or enlarge the scale to make them fit better. 2- the horizons had to line up 3- the ones on the most left and right should act like brackets for the rest When the horizons align, the group becomes like one panoramic photo, adjoining multiple experiences.
Lisa Asagi: Thank you, I like the term memorial exploration very much. It brings to mind my own fascination with explorers, and how they purposely place themselves in the realms of the unknown. And how because the situation is unknown, survival goes beyond skill or knowledge, it sometimes requires them to tap the most unexpected of personal resources of the interior realm. The bottom of our own oceans. What is this place inside of us all? And we taught ourselves how to build it, we grew this place inside of ourselves with everything that we have ever experienced, from the moment we were born. No one one ever taught us how to do this. And though we have created our own places, we recognize it others. I could spend the rest of my life trying to find ways to create things that might in some way have the power to remind people of this personal ocean inside of us.
In response to the second question, the text was written and given to Gaye. The energy that exists between the photographs, the design, and the text is due to her artistic powers.
p.s. - I also feel that there's a strong connection when collaborating with Gaye, because of her constant awareness of the conceptual life of a photographic image. Especially in these two books, there is an element of the conceptual found object, in both text and photograph. I am not sure if this is the right term. What I am thinking is that the writing of both pieces treat experience, memory, dream as found objects as well. This becomes highlighted by Gaye's choice of images.
OV : Like Twelve scenes, Physics is about intimacy. The movement of the text is a movement beneath. What Physics proposes, it's a double journey : beneath the earth, beneath the skin. But in Physics, the texture is even more dream-like : the amorous and experimental physics of the bodies on one side, and the mineral body of the earth, on the other side (the desert of Southeast New Mexico). Would you agree with this presentation ?
Lisa Asagi: Yes. And strangely, now that I think about it, Physics started off as an exploration of longing. From the beginning it unraveled and moved as two strands - a vertiginous longing for a lover and a kind of longing for understanding that has peppered the earth with scientific pursuits. So yes, the idea of body is also working on two levels, the supple mortal human and incrementally evolving ancient earth. Along these same lines, there is the parallel of the physically intimate spaces of the earth's body, also harboring a timeless element, but undoubtedly shaped and affected by the unbending nature of time.
OV: "In the midst of luminescent night traffic, beautiful streams of red and yellow uncloud an underwater scene of blue". The sentence reaches here an abstract beauty, a kind of lyrical, colored abstraction. May you tell us what part plays exactly painting in your work, Lisa ?
Lisa Asagi: The visual arts, especially painting and cinema, have always made their way into my palette, lyrically and conceptually. Though my craft is word, I am very close to visual arts and cinema, they feed me just as much as literature.
OV: Did you conceptualize the way your words, while writing, are linked with visual arts?
Lisa Asagi: Yes, of course, for me a piece can sometimes take on another conceptual layer when it incorporates or becomes conscious of another medium.
And as far as links to visual arts, there is an abundance of references to do with visual narrative, especially portraits, that are just too good for a writer to not explore and play with.