Innovative Memorial: Kagami’s Unconventional Tribute with Squids, Serenades, and Virtual Reality

by | Jul 3, 2023

Step into a realm where the boundaries of time and space converge, where the ethereal harmonies of a celebrated composer merge with the immersive world of virtual reality. Welcome to Kagami, the extraordinary memorial conceived by the late Japanese artist Ryuichi Sakamoto. Recently making its debut at the esteemed Manchester International Festival, this enthralling experience defies convention and prompts audiences to contemplate their own existence, while pondering whether the future rulers of our planet, the squids, would lend an ear to Sakamoto’s melodic serenade.

Picture a circle of eager onlookers, adorned with virtual reality goggles, ready to embark on a captivating voyage. As they step into the all-encompassing universe of Kagami, a palpable sense of anticipation fills the air. Sakamoto’s haunting melodies permeate their consciousness, blurring the demarcation between reality and imagination. It is a symphony that transcends the senses, a virtual reality encounter like no other.

But what lies behind the enigmatic title, Kagami? In Japanese, “kagami” translates to “mirror.” Through this artistic creation, Sakamoto beckons us to reflect upon life, death, and the legacies we leave behind. The virtual reality setting serves as a mirror, presenting us with a reflection of our own mortality, provoking introspection, and inspiring profound contemplation.

One of the most fascinating elements of Kagami is the use of a tombstone as a symbol of remembrance. Traditionally, tombstones serve as tangible memorials for the departed. Yet, in Sakamoto’s vision, the tombstone becomes a portal—a gateway between realms. It symbolizes the fleeting nature of life and the capacity of art to transcend the confines of mortality.

As the audience soars above the clouds, Sakamoto’s ethereal presence captivates their senses. His poignant poem, penned shortly before his passing, resonates deeply, serving as a testament to his desire for an elaborate commemoration. Kagami becomes the ultimate expression of his creative spirit, a testament to his artistic brilliance and his yearning for a lasting impact.

But what of the squids? Sakamoto’s imagination transports us beyond the realm of earthly existence. He ponders whether the squids, the inheritors of our planet after humanity’s reign, would lend an ear to his music. It is a thought-provoking question that transcends the constraints of time and space, challenging us to contemplate the significance of art within the grand tapestry of existence.

The Manchester International Festival provides the ideal stage for Sakamoto’s unconventional memorial. Renowned for its unwavering commitment to pushing artistic boundaries, the festival embraces innovation, creativity, and the exploration of new ideas. Kagami seamlessly integrates into this environment, captivating audiences with its unique fusion of technology and emotional depth.

As the performance unfolds, Sakamoto emerges amidst the spectators, seated at his beloved Yamaha grand piano. The haunting beauty of his music lingers, capturing the essence of his soul. It is a testament to the power of art to forge profound connections with the human experience, transcending the realms of life and death.

Sakamoto’s battle with cancer adds an extra layer of poignancy to his yearning for an elaborate memorial. Confronting his own mortality, he aspired to leave an indelible impression—a legacy that transcends the constraints of time. Kagami becomes the vessel that carries his spirit and vision into future generations.

In a world where conventional mourning and remembrance often dictate our approach, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Kagami offers a refreshing and thought-provoking alternative. Through the immersive power of virtual reality, Sakamoto’s music, and his profound inquiry regarding the squids, we are invited to contemplate our own mortality and the impact we can make through our creative endeavors.

As the performance draws to a close, the audience is left with a sense of wonder and introspection. Kagami challenges us to break free from societal norms, to embrace innovation, and to ponder the legacy we leave behind. In a world that is constantly evolving, Sakamoto’s unconventional memorial serves as a poignant reminder that art possesses the power to transcend time, touch the hearts of future generations, and leave an indelible mark upon the world.

So, as you reflect upon your own existence, consider this: Would the squids, the inheritors of our Earth, lend an ear to your serenade?