Cassette Letters

‘CASSETTE LETTERS – How we used to love each other’ is a set of 12 five-minute videos shot on mobile phones in 12 different locations. The artist Tan Kim, confined to her home due to health, invited 12 people in different cities to video their surroundings and send her the footage to edit. The result is a collection of twelve 5-minute short videos that can be viewed separately or as a long film with 12 chapters; a contemplation of how we humans are connected to each other and the planet that sustains us.


Tan Kim (she/her) is a multimedia artist. Her multicultural background, chronic immune condition and neurodivergence enable her to see the world through many lenses. Her projects are personal, diverse, sometimes collaborative, often spanning many continents. All her art projects attempt to explore what she herself calls the “deep ecology of inner and outer resilience” – a quiet practice that helps her to navigate her everyday life and question the limitations of traditional identity barriers.

12 ‘surrogate’ artists were invited to do the following:
1. Change mobile settings to best possible high-resolution quality, (4K) and the highest frame rate – a minimum of 60 frame rate per seconds. Deactivate stabilisers.
2. Turn the mobile sideways and shoot in landscape format without zooming. Pan slowly. Shoot 5-30 seconds long video clips.
3. Send the video clips in batches to via the app Transfernow.
4. Wait for the first film edit and further instructions!
The clips provide the raw audio and visual and  material for the final films that are edited together by TAN KIM in Sweden. Composer Andrew Hunt created original music and sound for some of the films.

The films so far
Alta, by Laila Kolostyák Teigen
Alta is located just below the 70th latitude. It is closer to the North Pole than it is to most of Europe. When you live that far north, it’s impossible to ignore Nature. Nature dictates how you live, what you work with and when you work. Nature can be cruel or kind, but it is always breathtakingly beautiful. Nature’s beauty is far more than the view that can be captured in a picture postcard. The real beauty is in the rhythm of everyday life, the shifting seasons, the vast skies and mountains, the proximity of animals and the interconnectivity of all life.

Curlwaa, by Graeme Robinson
Curlwaa was the first Government irrigation scheme in New South Wales, Australia, established in 1890. It lies a few kilometres upstream of Wentworth on the Murray River. My Uncle lives there. It is a flood prone area because of colonisation. I drove there one weekend to take the boat out and look at the flood damage. Despite all the water, we could still see the old Aboriginal tribal borders marked by carved tree trucks and bent branches of trees. More than 7,500 Aboriginal-scarred trees have been recorded in NSW, but fewer than 100 carved trees remain standing in their original location. The rest have been removed for farming, forestry or urban development.

Findhorn, by Chris Bird
What strikes me most about the places I visit along the Northeast coast of Scotland – particularly the salt marshes – is the ability of wildlife to flourish in abundance, even in a harsh and unforgiving environment that is constantly changing. Just like the nature and the land, I think defiant resilience is a characteristic of everyone who chooses Scotland as a home.

Istanbul, by Pavel Matveyev
I live in Sweden. I couldn’t fly to home because of the war, and my mother couldn’t visit me for the same reason. Istanbul, Turkey, was one of the few places we could both travel to, to spend some time together. It felt strange, as if we were hiding, or meeting in secret. The first night we were so excited to see the sights that we couldn’t fall asleep. We stayed up late chatting and then listened to a guided meditation together. I think I feel asleep first. The next day, we wandered around like tourists. My mum wanted to see the parks, the market and the Blue Mosque. We were both sad to leave. It felt even more strange to say goodbye at the airport, not knowing when or where we could meet again.

Lamu, by Judy Kibinge
Lamu is a small town on Lamu Island, part of the Lamu Archipelago in Kenya. It holds a special place in my heart. It is a kind of African paradise, and it draws visitors from all over the world. For my family and I, Lamu is a sanctuary and a retreat from our busy lives. The sandy dunes, the donkeys, the pink morning skies and being out on the water in graceful dhows brings us peace, serenity, and a profound connection to each other and the local culture that surrounds us.

Liscannor, by Kathy Sambrook
A favourite place of mine is Kilmacreehy beach, in Liscannor, County Clare, Southern Ireland. I call it “my” beach, as if I own it. It is one of the few places where dogs can run free. It is rich in wildlife all year around; I am never alone. There is always a haunt of curlews, oystercatchers, herons, kestrels. I kept a list one year & counted 38 species of birds. Every day is different, but it always brings me peace.

London, by Miranda Dutta-Schöller
I’ve lived in London all my life. It is a multi-faceted, multi-layered city that is never boring. There is something for everyone, but for me, London is all the ‘secret’ and often overlooked parts that most people don’t know; the back streets away from the crowds, the quirky architectural details, the hidden oases of green, the history that lies preserved under layers of paint or behind modern shopfronts. I love knowing that all I need to do is walk around the corner and I’m back in the hustle and bustle again.

Los Angeles, by Philip Berger
Everyone’s Los Angeles is a unique experience. LA is one of the most diverse places on earth, with almost every culture and ethnicity represented within its county’s borders. Nature and the weather is just as diverse; nestled between mountains and earthquake faults, the city, like most of coastal California, is made of up mini-climates. The marine layer keeps the beach areas and West side under a cloak of pacific oceanic stasis. Further East is desert. It can be dry, sunny and 28 degrees Celsius on the East side, while the West is damp, cloudy and 15 degrees. Beneath it all are drained wetlands that were home to diverse indigenous peoples who cultivated the land for thousands of years.

Osaka, by Ian Baines
Osaka is not an obviously beautiful city. 30 years of living here means that I often take it for granted. This project has helped me go about my everyday life with a renewed sense of curiosity. With my phone in hand, I took time to really think about the city that is my home. My daily commute took on a new purpose. A trip to the supermarket became an adventure again, the way I did when I first arrived; when I didn’t know anything about Japan, and the people or its culture. The place where you live can be mesmerising – if you only take the time to look.

Querétaro, by Leanne MacKay
Querétaro is located in the north-central area of Mexico, or the Sierra Madre Oriental, connecting the humid south with the drier deserts of the north. I moved there to be with my husband Odín and stayed for four and a half years. It was very different to anywhere else I had ever lived. I shot this video footage in Querétaro and Vancouver during our separation. As I started my new life in Vancouver, I soon realised that echoes of Querétaro were always close.

Rawat, by Chau Lahnin
text to come…

Music by Andrew Hunt. CASSETTE LETTERS is an Imaginary Life AB not-for-profit production licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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