Ukiyo: Floating World

Title Ukiyo: Floating World
Year 2019
Composer Juliet Palmer
Instrument/s 17-string koto, piano, violin, shamisen, percussion, objects
Commission Thin Edge New Music Collective
First Performance (date, performers, venue) September 2019
Contact Info
Notes Ukiyo, floating world is a poetic contemplation of the detritus of our disposable economy, inspired by improvisations with marine plastic pollution in Japan.Along the shoreline, styrofoam beads swirl and settle in our footprints. Plastic bottles crumple and foam crates squeak and break apart as we clamber over them, bumping into plastic fishing floats, resonant as drums.
“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.