It has been quite a while since I visited an art museum, but on April 8th I headed for the Sapporo Art Museum. I had a special invitation ticket for the ribbon cutting ceremony from my son Neil Hartmann. Of course his family was there along with the family and friends of the other artists included in this annual exhibition of local talent in Hokkaido. It was a cold day with plenty of snow still on the ground, but there was a warmth felt by everyone in attendance at this museum in the Art Park located about a 15 minute drive from my home in Minami-ku. It was a proud father who stood next to his son that day.
Neil is an independent snowboard cameraman who has worn many hats within that job description and he wanted to share some of his work and tools with the public in his unusual exhibit, which consists of two sections. The first section you enter will certainly “Wake” you up, as you come upon the vehicle he uses when out on the job. Yes, this is his van that is actually inside the museum, and you can sit in it and watch his video which illustrates the story behind his work, described in his own words below.
Installation Title: TIME SLIDES BY
Material: Digital Video & Time Lapse Footage / Digital Projection Front and Rear
Car: (Daihatsu WAKE)
Locations: Hokkaido, Tokyo, Akita, Nagano, Niigata, Canada, New Zealand
Time: Filmed Between 2015.December ~ 2017.March
Music: Artist: O.N.O Album: One Slow Day Over Here
Sound Production: WHITELIGHTS
Thoughts behind the installation:
I have spent more than thirty years traveling around the world in searching for fleeting moments to slide on the snow. My tool of choice is a snowboard. A young sport that emerged in the early 70’s when I was still a small child. It was on a trip to Japan that I first had the chance to encounter a snowboard at Rusutsu resort. That first moment I stood on the board looked down the mountain and started to move changed my life forever. Walking, running, driving, swimming, flying, there are so many ways to get from point A to point B, but I will always be partial to sliding on the snow with a board under my feet.
Whenever and wherever I travel I am always looking for a way to spend some time sliding around. Snow is my favorite material to slide on but if not available where I am at, then I will use a skateboard or a bicycle to achieve a similar sensation. If I am in my car, I gaze up at the mountains imagining the lines they provide. If I am flying in a plane, I look down on the peaks below and wonder what terrain they hold. If I am walking through a city, I look for a smooth surface and slight incline.
Life is short and we all have only a finite time to experience and enjoy what the world offers. For me the sensation of sliding seems to bend the rules of time. Slowing down the sensation and increasing the enjoyment of the moment. Packing, preparing, eating, moving, loading, unloading, all fly by at a fast pace, but the moment I step on a sliding device it all seems to slow down. The sense of time itself changes, as if everything is in slow motion. Maybe it is the escape from the mundane problems of daily life. Maybe it is the mental focus created by a demanding balancing activity. Maybe it is the connection felt with the earth and the feeling of speed. I am not sure of the exact reason, but I know it is a mix between a sport, creating art and a meditative state.
This program’s overall theme is “On a trip” and for me the act of snowboarding, skating and sliding all fit this description perfectly. The goal of any trip is to return home safely after having gained something, perhaps wisdom, experience, or maybe just a few kilos. For me it means a deep satisfaction, and a floating sensation that stays around long after the trip is finished.
The second half of his exhibition reveals about half of his snowboard collection mounted on the walls in a colorful display, along with a video screen of snow sliding by, which Neil also describes in his own words below the image.
Title: SNOW SLIDES BY
Material: Personal Snowboard and Yukiita collection
Brands: Burton, REV, Sobut Brand, Gentem Stick, Morrow, Field Earth Design, Pogo SnowSurfer
Production Years: 1977 ~ 2017
As a snow slider I travel in an upward direction, cars, buses, lifts and my own two feet take me high up the mountains so that I can enjoy the return trip by sliding back down as far and as long as possible. The speed and the technique used to slide down the slope is not important. The actual feeling of the snow and the earth moving below ones feet is what impresses me the most. The sensation of balancing, shifting weight from side to side to control the direction of travel. The sense of floating on soft snow, gravity pulling my weight down the slope is something that has to be experienced to be understood. Friction between the snow and the board creates a melting effect which allows the board to travel smoothly.
Scratches and marks from natural elements like trees and rocks leave their mark on the sole of the board. The longer the distance traveled the more worn the board becomes. A mark of time and snow passing along the base of the board. Fleeting moments to be treasured and saved in the memory banks.
The first board I bought and rode is in this collection, along with my most recent board. There is a board that has been to Alaska and one which has been ridden in Russia. There is a handmade wooden board from Canada that I have ridden only once. Although these boards have been retired from regular duty on the slopes, they are all rideable again with a little maintenance. I like to keep them around like the small trinkets that people tend to collect while traveling. Each one contains the memories and sensations from that particular experience.
Snowboards and skis are made of many materials, but the main components are the core, or the center of the board made usually from wood and a top sheet layer to protect the core. This is the side of the board one sees when standing on top of it, so it is generally printed with a graphic image and brand name. The bottom of the board is called the Sole and it is made with a material called P-Tex. There are various types, colors and grades which all affect the speed of travel on the snow. Although the top sheet tends to receive more attention, I prefer and chose to display the sole. The story of the board and riders experience is captured in the scratches and wear and tear seen on the base of the board.
So please go ahead and touch and feel these souvenirs from my snow sliding travels around the world. Enjoy the variety of shapes, see if you can imagine how the design differences will affect the riding sensations. Which shape do you relate with the most, which one seems to reach out to you? Can you feel the distance traveled?
Be sure to stop by during this exhibition and do check out the work of all the fine artists on display. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy their work and then if the weather is nice explore the Art Park. https://artpark.or.jp/en/map/#map1