The recently released, Everything Everywhere All at Once, depicts a multiverse-jumping adventure. Near the end of the movie, somewhere in the multiverse, the two protagonists are seen sitting as rocks overlooking a deserted landscape. This quiet scene elevates all the chaotic moments of multiverse-jumping that surround it. In life, we are often troubled and desperate for a rewind. During times like these perhaps it’s better to pretend to be a rock and be still? In the stillness you can find your truest self and your vision will become clear.
There is a man from Japan who is so fond of collecting stones on seashores that he calls himself, Ishitoumi(Stone Man). “For me, the stone is like a device that evokes memories and takes me to various psychological landscapes. It’s also like a tiny universe that I can keep right next to me. Every stone drifting to the ocean carries with it a unique story. As I collect them and listen to the sound of the ocean waves, I find peace within.”
Stone Man’s interest in collecting stones started in childhood, but it didn’t last long. The enthusiasm died down as he got older. It wasn’t until later in life that a colleague of his brought back a beach stone from his hometown that he suddenly remembered the good old days when he would go hunting for stones; he used to love stones so much. Since then, Stone Man sets off to collect stones every weekend. “I have a collection of stones in different shapes; abstract, round, square, and oddly-shaped. There are some that resemble a mountain, shell, boat etc. But most of my collection is sized between a quail egg and normal egg. It’s easier for storage. Lately, I’ve fallen in love with stones that are of marble size, or sometimes even smaller. Compared with river stones that are often rough on the surface, I like the seashore stones more because they have a smooth surface from being washed by the ocean waves. I once found a stone in Aomori that has the shape of Jupiter. It’s round, brown, with marble stripes, and a very smooth surface. It is around the size of an egg. It is really beautiful.”
“I found something really interesting when I collected stones. It’s that the stones collected from two different shores that are very close to each other could indeed be very different; though I have also found similar stones from two different shores that are hundreds of kilometers apart. For example, on one of the seashores in Shizuoka, more than 20% of the stones are quartz; while in Fukui, there are stones that look like layered cake, and in Niigata, there are stones that have black speckle pattern like a Gomafu seal.” Stone Man often draws attention and curiosity from other beachgoers as he’s stone-hunting. “Usually I pretend to be a researcher, cross my arms, and start mumbling. It probably makes things even weirder. (laughs)”
Stones, whether they are sedimentary, metamorphic, igneous, meteorites or fossils, are fragments of the earth. They have all gone through the weathering process to become what they are now. “There is a profound connection between humans and stones. As far as I know, the earth is a terrestrial planet and stones are the fragments of it. Earth formed when gravity pulled cosmic dust in to become a planet. In that sense, the stones are intrinsic to the universe. At the end of the day, all is one; even though the stones themselves are unique. Stone Man takes joy in naming the stones he collects. There is a collection titled, “Twelve Stones”, in which groups of twelve stones of similar nature or theme are orderly displayed on a wooden board. He has also placed stones in a bowl of water and called it “Imaginary Seashore”. “After all, it’s about arranging the stones for display or putting them in water. When I look at the stones, I think of the ocean where I got them from and the relevant psychological landscape will come into view. At times, I’d just stare at the stones that are bathing in the morning light or setting sun.”
Stone Man has quite a few favorites among his vast collection. “Let me introduce two of them to you. The first one is like a bright star in the night sky. It has some clear, transparent spots on its dark surface, and a shape that makes it perfect for display. It’s really beautiful. My other favorite is a wood fossil. Also known as petrified wood. Its pattern, shape, color, and texture are just stunning. It’s like an old temple with a long history. Simply impeccable. It felt like a dream when I first saw it.” Being an art director and graphic designer, Stone Man is experienced in both hand-painting and digital painting, and what’s more, dealing with chance and randomness. With such a background, his love for collecting stones that are formed by chance comes naturally. “My paintings depict the everyday randomness, dreams, spiritual world, and the imaginary end of the universe. Randomness is remarkable and we should cherish it.” Life is mesmerizing for we can not predict what comes next. I held a stone in my palm and a line from the movie came to mind, “The universe is so much bigger than you realize.”