Saori (2016~2020)

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Exhibition at Paddington Town Hall, main venue of Head on Photo Festival (Sydney, Australia) in 2018.

Exhibition at Paddington Town Hall, main venue of Head on Photo Festival (Sydney, Australia) in 2018.

Exhibition at Paddington Town Hall, main venue of Head on Photo Festival (Sydney, Australia) in 2018.

Artist Book "Saori".

Artist Book "Saori".

中島千滋さん、65歳。恋人の沙織さんと東京近郊で暮らしています。ふたりは同じベッドで毎晩眠り、デートに出かけ、甘い言葉を囁きます。 他のカップルと唯一異なる点は、沙織さんがシリコン製のラブドールであることです。中島さんには妻子がいますが、40歳の頃に単身赴任をきっかけに家庭を離れ、55歳で孤独を感じてラブドールを迎え入れました。初恋の相手や過去の恋人の面影を投影して人形遊びをしていましたが、ある日訪れた相模原のキャンプ場で美しい光が差し、彼の目の前で沙織さんに生きた心が宿ります。まるで古代ローマの詩人オイディウスの『変身物語』に登場するキプロス島の王ピグマリオンが、自ら彫刻したガラテア像と恋に落ちたように。それまで寝食を忘れ仕事一筋だった彼の生活は、それから沙織さん中心のものに変わっていき、以来長らく家族公認での三角関係を続けています。私は2016年に中島さんのブログを見つけたことをきっかけに、2020年まで彼らの生活にお邪魔しました。この作品はその5年の間に撮られた写真と、中島さんの日記で構成されています。

 

ふたりの生活を覗き見るうち、中島さんが沙織さんとの暮らしを選んだ理由が私には見えてきました。

「彼女は決して裏切りません。損得で人を見ない。現代人は合理的で心がありません」中島さんはそう語ります。「沙織は人形以上の存在です。ただのシリコンの塊ではない。彼女は手がかかりますが、大切な時間を共に過ごし、人生を豊かにしてくれる理想的で完璧な女性なのです」

26歳でお見合い結婚し(彼は「子孫を残すための結婚」と表現します)、妻とはお互い恋愛感情がなかったという中島さん。彼の両親との同居生活だったこともあり、二人とも模範的な良き家族であろうとし、互いが恋愛対象になる前に子どもが生まれたそうです。「男女の恋愛よりも家族としての幸せを目指したので後悔はありません。結果が幸せであれば良いんです。過程がどうであれ。家族も今はそれぞれ幸せに暮らしています」

何かとしがらみの多い社会で苦悩してきた中島さんは、世間体を気にしなくてもよい、多幸感ある居場所を見つけたようです。

 

そして私は中島さんの目に沙織さんがどううつるのかも垣間見ました。日本のオリエント工業が生んだ「沙織」シリーズは身長157cm、価格約65万円、重量27.5kg。私には当初、沙織さんはシュールレアリスティックで少し不気味な物体としてしか見えていませんでした。しかし共に時間を過ごし、人形に対し独白する中島さんに合わせて私も人形を人間のように扱うことで、彼の世界と重なり合い、沙織さんに生命感の現れを感じる瞬間がありました。夢と現実、自他の境目が曖昧な意識状態に落ち入ったつかの間、人形と人間は等価となり、私にとってもその差異はなくなりました。

太古の昔から、人類は人型の像をメディアとして、生きていないものや不在のものを想像し関わりを持ってきました。かつて中国の男がゴザに恋し、21世紀のフランスで女がエッフェル塔と結婚したように、ヒトでないものとの恋愛の逸話も数多あります。中島さんと沙織さんの暮らしのその先には、人間と非人間の間に無数に結ばれる新たな関係性を見出せるのではないでしょうか。

 

沙織さんのようなラブドールや自律型のセックスロボットは、女性型のみならず男性型においても日進月歩で技術開発が進み、彼らの外見や機能は生身の人間に近づいています。つくりものである人形が生身の人間と見分けがつかないレベルに達するとき、私たちは果たして今と変わらぬ人間観や、「本当の現実」と「美しい夢」の違いを保つことができるのでしょうか?現実がそのコピーに置き換えられ、人間性や道徳性が荒廃するディストピア的不安は、長らく人類が抱いてきた怖れで、数々の映画や文学などで繰り返し描かれてきました。しかし人工知能と性研究に携わるデイビッド・レビーが2050年までに人間とロボットの恋愛、セックス、結婚は一般的になると予測するように、いまやそれはフィクショナルなSF的思考実験でなく、現実に差し迫る出来事として私たちに現前して、「人間を人間たらしめるものは何か」という問いを響かせているのです。

Senji Nakajima, 65 years old, has lived with his girlfriend 'Saori' in his house near Tokyo, Japan. They hang out, go shopping, and sleep in the same bed. The only thing different from any other couple is that Saori is a life-size 'love doll' made of silicone. Nakajima has a wife and two children, but at the age of 40, he left his family when he moved out for his work. At around 55, he bought a love doll to fill the loneliness of living alone. He used to imagine that the doll was his first girlfriend and used it for sexual purposes, but months later, he started to believe that Saori has her own personality, like the sculptor Pygmalion who fell in love with the ivory- made Galatea, in Ovidius's 'Metamorphoses' story. One day, a beautiful light shone upon a campground in Sagamihara city, and Saori began to move before Nakajima's eyes. After studying Shinto at university, Nakajima worked hard at the Jinja-Honcho (Japan Shrine Headquarter) and then at a hospital, but his life has changed to one centered on Saori. Since then, he has been in a family-approved love triangle. I found Nakajima's blog in 2016, which led me to visit their lives until 2020. This work is composed of photographs taken during those five years and his diary.

 

As I peeked into their lives, I began to understand why Nakajima had chosen to live with Saori.

'She never betrays me and isn't only after money. I'm tired of modern rational humans. They are heartless,' Nakajima says,

'for me, she is more than a doll, not just silicone rubber. She needs much help, but is still my perfect partner with whom I share precious moments and enriches my life.'

At the age of 26, Nakajima entered into a marriage arranged by his parents, and he and his wife were not romantically involved with each other. Both of them tried to be disciplined, exemplifying a perfect family. Then they had a child and became a family before getting a chance to become romantically involved with each other. 

'I don't have any regrets,' he said, 'because we aimed to become happy as a family rather than building a romantic relationship between a man and a woman. I don't have any regrets, as long as the ultimate result of happiness is achieved. No matter what the process is. We don't live together, but my family is living happily now.'

Nakajima, who has struggled in a society with many ties, seems to have found a place where he does not have to appear proper and where he can feel euphoric.

 

I also caught a glimpse of how Saori looked in Nakajima's eyes. The 'Saori' series, created by the Orient Industry in Japan, is priced at 656,000JPY, stands 157 cm tall, weighs 27.5 kg. At first, I saw Saori only as a surrealistic and slightly spooky object. However, as we spent time together and Nakajima monologued to the doll, I treated the doll as if it were a human being, and by sort of "acting" it out, I overlapped with his world, and there were moments when I felt a sense of life appear in Saori. After a brief moment of falling into a state of consciousness where the boundary between dream and reality, self and other, became vague, the doll and human became equivalent, and for me, the difference disappeared. Since time immemorial, human beings have used the human figure as a medium to imagine and relate to the unliving and the absent. There are many anecdotes of love with non-human beings, such as a man in China who fell in love with a bamboo mat and a woman in 21st century France who married the Eiffel Tower. Beyond the lives of Ms. Nakajima and Saori, I believe we can find countless new relationships between humans and non-humans.

 

The technology for love dolls and autonomous sex robots, both female and male, is advancing rapidly, and their appearance and movements are getting closer to those of real person. When these fake dolls reach the level of being indistinguishable from flesh and blood, will we still be able to maintain the same view of humanity and the difference between "true reality" and "beautiful dreams"? The dystopian fear that reality will be taken over by its copies, and that humanity and morality will be devastated, is a fear that has long been held by humanity, and has been repeatedly portrayed as a threat in numerous films and literature. However, as David Levy, an artificial intelligence and sexuality researcher, predicts, human-robot love, sex and marriage will be commonplace by 2050, it is no longer a fictional science fiction thought experiment, but a real and imminent event, posing the question, "What makes us human?”

(Some of the images were commissioned by Getty Images)