Shigeaki Iwai’s Dialogue presents video footage of a conversation between four people, each speaking in a different language. Iwai has recorded the footage for this work, which he started in 1996, from scripted conversations spoken in over 60 different languages and recorded in European, Asian and Australian cities. In the work, each individual appears to understand the language being spoken by the others, illustrating for the viewer an idealized existence, where language and cultural barriers do not exist. Iwai says: ‘Dialogue is not a model for the future. What I try to do with it is to present the various problems involved in languages by building a "fiction" of tired idealism. In that sense, there is great significance in exhibiting this work in a multilingual nation like Australia.’
Like other large cities around the world, recently, many different languages are spoken in the central parts of Tokyo. To my surprise, by being surrounded by various languages, I felt that there is the "nation" and the "world" from my inner awareness, not by any given information, for the first time. This is my actual experience.
The idea of co-existence with others is anyone's ideal if it doesn't interfere with one's interests. People, however, move toward large cities, gather and mix there, outside of such safe realms.
As we can see in the actual world, languages cannot be relativized like particular customs and human rights. Languages are filled with various contradictions that can never be resolved by idealism or optimism.
My video work, "Dialogue," is not a model for the future. What I try to do with it is to present the various problems involved in languages by building a "fiction" of tired idealism.
In that sense, there is great significance in exhibiting this work in a multi-linguistic nation like Australia.