Experiencing Interruptions?

Human-Cannabis II: ASA

Inspired by the ancient worship of hemp in Japan, ASA (the Japanese pronunciation of hemp) is a memorial of the plant's cultural heritage, enduring spiritual connections and untold histories.

"Shinrabansyo" by Amano Sen
"Awaken from A Dream" (Original) by Steven Wayne Thomas
"Uncharted Destiny" (Original) by Steven Wayne Thomas

  • Arthur Liou
  • Arthur Liou
  • Arthur Liou
  • Atsunobu Katagiri
    Key Cast
  • Steven Wayne Thomas
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    February 28, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    36,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Burbank International Film Festival
    Burbank, CA
    United States
    September 9, 2020
  • Japan Film Festival Los Angeles
    Los Angeles
    United States
  • Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival
    Providence, RI
    United States
Director Biography - Arthur Liou

Jawshing Arthur Liou is an artist with a background in photography, digital media, film, and journalism. His recent projects include a pilgrimage in the sacred mountains in Tibet, a journey through the tsunami-ravaged coastline of Japan, and a cinematic collaboration with a brain scientist regarding the connection between endocannabinoids and memory. Liou works with lens-based materials and electronic imaging to create installations depicting mental and surreal spaces. Many of his videos do not contain clear narratives but are meditative in nature, allowing time to slow to a ruminative pace while spatial scales oscillate between the microcosmic and infinitely expansive. Using sources ranging from landscapes and oil paint to human body, much of Liou’s work is related to notions of impermanence, human tragedy, and spiritual sanctuary.

Liou’s videos and prints have been featured in programs, exhibitions, and collections in Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Rubin Museum in New York, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Indianapolis Museum of Art, National Gallery Victoria, Melbourne, Seoul Museum of Art, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Red Brick Museum, Beijing, Art Basel: Hong Kong, and Sharjah Biennial. Liou is the recipient of Asian Cultural Council Grant, New York; Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, Indianapolis; and Garry B. Fritz Award from the Society for Photographic Education National Conference, Chicago. International presentations of his work include SIGGRAPH conference; European Biennial Conference of the Society for Science, Literature, and the Arts; and Chicago Humanities Festival. Liou is currently the Herman B. Wells Professor of Digital Art at Indiana University, Bloomington.

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Director Statement

My daughter passed away from leukemia when she was 4. My wife and I are keenly aware of the blind spots of Western medicine. During our research of alternative treatment, the potential of cannabis surfaced over and over again. We were not sure of its real medical value, but was aggravated to learn any meaningful research was prohibited by law. Cannabis regulation in the U.S. has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. The impetus for me to work on this topic, however, is more about promoting an unobstructed understanding of this plant. The scientific information got me started. It was the mystery that kept me going. For me, cannabis is a word I use to tell a story of illusion and reality; and to express my own faith and quandary.

In my unexpected adventure of cannabis study, I have met scientists and researchers; priests and worshipers; farmers and craftsmen; entrepreneurs and consumers. They were usually baffled by my inquiry at first, but understood my intention immediately. They also wanted me to tell their stories and were eager to learn more. The film series, Human-Cannabis, is partly their voice and partly mine. They could be yours if you find the metaphors fitting or familiar in your own journey.