A snowfall of feathers within a 15-metre space (image © Tokujin Yoshioka Inc)
Shizen, the Japanese word for nature, has always played a significant role in Japan’s national culture and design philosophy. Sensing Nature, the new exhibition at the Mori Art Museum, attempts to clarify the sensory response to nature present within the collective cultural memory of Japanese people. The exhibition is comprised of three large-scale installations by some of the country’s most celebrated designers/ artists: Tokujin Yoshioka (icon 032), Taro Shinoda and Takashi Kuribayashi. Each work evokes natural phenomena, which are abstracted from their physical form into experiential installations rather than tangible objects.
Tokujin Yoshioka’s oeuvre is perfectly suited to the brief of the exhibition. Having worked for architect Shiro Kuramata and fashion designer, Issey Miyake (icon 054) in the past, Yoshioka now focuses on his own interests of abstracting elements to their essence to evoke specific emotions within his audience. Snow or white-ness is a common theme running through much of his work. Earlier projects such as Snow Flower discuss the aggregation of snowflakes – the concept of the individual in relation to the unified whole – while others like Snowflake for Kartell deal with materiality – infiltrating an exhibition space with hundreds of translucent white straws. Snow, first conceived in 1997 as an Issey Miyake window display, synthesises earlier themes to create a more multi-dimensional exhibit that is both conceptual and tactile.
The exhibit consists of a 15-metre wide snowscape of light, white feathers that are propelled into the air and then waft gently downwards. The arbitrary movement of the feathers and their colour should evoke the memory of snow within the individual thereby removing formalistic associations with nature and enhancing haptic sensibilities. The idea is not to reproduce nature but to analyse human response to nature. This phenomenological idea manipulates sensory perception through an artificial simulation of a natural process; thereby making us reconsider what Sensing Nature really means.
Snow, part of the Sensing Nature exhibition at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, is open from 24 July to 7 November
image: © Tokujin Yoshioka Inc
Tokujin Yoshioka’s earlier work ‘Snow’ in 1997 (image: © Nacasa & Partners Inc)