Sensing Nature

The latest exhibition at the Mori Art Museum, which will be on display until November 7th, is aptly named “Sensing Nature”—a collaborative work by world-renown Japanese artists Tokujin Yoshioka, Taro Shinoda, and Takashi Kuribayashi.

Showcasing some of the masterpieces of the three artists, the exhibit subtly imposes the question of “rethinking the Japanese perception of nature.”

And masterpieces they are. Those who view the exhibit are first greeted by Yoshioka’s “Snow,” which recreates the seemingly fantasy-like quality of snow. Yoshioka achieves this feat using 15 meters of enclosed open space, a fan, and 300 kilograms of feathers. The fan spins every now and then, causing the feathers to fly, float, and fall to the ground, leaving visitors the impression that they’re actually watching snow fall slowly to the ground.

Curious patrons of the Mori Art Museum then proceed to view the works of Taro Shinoda, who has been working on the theme of the “connection between man and nature.” Among his intriguing works is the Ginga—a series of water-filled bottles with air tubes hang from the ceiling that releases a droplet of water simultaneously, causing the white milky water in a round pool below to ripple. The resulting effect is nothing short of spectacular; observers feel the slightest sense of a disturbance in the water’s “harmony,” an iconic symbol of the Japanese notion of natural beauty.

Shinoda reveals that his work Ginga was inspired by the Hojo garden at Tofuku-ji Temple in Kyoto, which was designed by Shigemori Mirei, a notable Showa-era Japanese landscape artist. The east garden is a karesansui—a dry landscape—and features stars arranged in a Big Dipper motif that ‘shine’ by way of a pattern of furrows raked in the gravel. Shinoda effectively recreates the waxing and waning starlight of the Milky Way in his eccentric work.

Lastly, visitors to the museum enjoy the works of Takashi Kuribayashi, a legendary Japanese artist who specializes in nihonga. His works show how one’s perspectives can change with different locations, which he achieves by dividing his works into certain different layers.

While notions of Japanese shintoism were faintly perceptible, contemporary questions related to traditional worship of nature, such as neo-animism, neo-drudism, and a resurgence of voodoo rituals were left largely untouched. However, the artists’ creativity is certainly no short of genius, and their choice of materials (such as feathers for snow and white cardboard for a forest) invokes within the patron a sense of child-like glee as she makes her way about enjoying the works.

Right in the heart of Tokyo, the exhibit delivers a captivating experience for Tokyoites and urbanites hailing from around the world to see the beauty that nature has to offer. If anything, the museum is undeniably fun, and the minimalism of the exhibition space acts as a temporary retreat from the urban sprawl.

//By Ryo TAKAHASHI

One Response to “Sensing Nature”

  1. Shogo Okuda says:

    I was a bit disappointed by this exhibition lol.
    I went here because Bloomberg donates free audio device.
    I am especially fond of Yoshioka-san as an industrial engineer. I think his potential is maximized through that medium.
    Also, the tour guide was quite horrible. If we have to transmit the beauty of art to the public, we have to do it right.

Leave a Reply