The output of this residency is called ‘Wa Study 1’. It is my first exploration into a new series of work looking at ‘Wa’ (loosely translated as harmony, peace and balance), between people, nature and technology. This work and these specific areas of interest are a direct result of the Playable City Tokyo residency.
This residency has helped to bring a clarity to what my practice is, and what I really want to do. I spent the time between the first visit and this last visit further researching Japanese history, culture, art, design, religion and taking weekly classes to understand the Japanese language. This all lead me to Shinto, and back to Wa.
For ‘Wa Study 1’ I wanted to create something that represented where I am with my practice and something that really encapsulated the effect Tokyo and the residency has had on me.
For me, art is about crafting great experiences. These experiences are multi-sensory and experienced over a period of time, undistracted. Successful works are those where audiences have a visceral connection, they’re sucked in and don’t critique or over think the experience. I think this is very hard to achieve, and is rarely achieved. When audiences do experience that connection, they can be more present and more mindful, and when they are, I think this is when art is truly transformative. I want to try and create work like this.
I decided to explore making real trees, shrubs and grasses, move. Many iterations down the line, I created a small raised bed with around a dozen plants that would sit indoors. I imagined the raised bed like a cookie cut section of a larger garden where I could test ideas of movement and audience connection with nature. For this exploration, I presented a ‘subtle breeze’ which went through the plants. It was controlled by bespoke software and motors. I felt that if I could get the plants to look like they had a real breeze going through them, then I’d be confident I could create some pretty interesting experiences in a large garden. ‘Wa Study 1’ is definitely a small prototype as the final work has to be a larger garden. Audiences have to be in the garden to experience it properly, I don’t think it would work if it was looked at from the outside, like a painting.