In Praise of Shadows


In Praise of Shadows

Mino Japanese paper, fragrant wood, iron, glass lamp, speaker, etc.
W1500  H2000


In Praise of Shadows is a collection of essays by Junichiro Tanizaki, a Japanese author and essayist, discussing the sensation of beauty that is unique to Japan. In this book, in western countries at a time when there were still no street lights they would make the room as bright as possible and were obsessed with eliminating shadows. However, in Japan they accepted shadows and by using them they created art which appears only in the shadows and Tanizaki states that this is the characteristic of ancient japanese art. Seitaro Yamazaki created an installation with his ideology as a motif. You can experience the installation with your five senses using light, music, aroma and Japanese paper with typography on it but no ink.

The installation “In the praise of Shadows” is a poster consisting of cut out shapes of a delicate washi paper. Only when the poster is lit from behind, the shapes of the letters will appear. Without the fixating means of printing, these cut out letters float and are able to move half melted in the air. The dimness of the space makes the outlines of the fleeting letters even obscurer, letting the story of these alluring letters emerge.

Furthermore, the typography, music and aroma are all created to express static and dynamic, light and dark, quiet and subdued refinement in “In Praise of Shadows”.
With the typography, we ignored legibility on purpose and designed it in an uncertain, vague way, just maintaining its form as character. Furthermore, it was condensed into a form of “In Praise of Shadows” ideology which you can only understand by bodily sensation, escaping from the reading meaning of Kanji. The typeface is based on the stroke of traditional Japanese literature, being aware of soft and powerful motion that seems to melt into space. The character forms projected by penetrating light overflowed with three-dimensional vigor although it was two dimensional and emerged as an even vaguer existence.


What is called beauty always develops from real life. Our ancestors, forced to live in a dark room, found something beautiful in the shadows.
Junichiro Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows


With music, it is comprised of electronic sound based on musical scale of “Sho” (a traditional Japanese wind instrument) and traditional Japanese musical instrument. At the same time, outside sound and sound of buried earthen jar actually recorded in Japan were incoroprated. With sound system using quadral speakers, you can experience a world of deep sound at the venue. Furthermore, during the event, by updating sound in real time using modular synthesizers, you can experience sound fading in the same way as the light fading.

With regards to aroma, it has been devised based on an image of visual aroma so that the area where the light shines smoke will appear and in the shaded area the smoke will disappear. We have adopted two methods of “Shoko” and “Senko” as a way to burn incense that gives out smoke. “Shoko” is for the visitors to interactively participate in the exhibition and “Senko” is used to dramatize the exhibit area. For the aroma of “Shoko”, a fragrant wood called “Kyara” (in the context of Japanese aroma this is the best of its kind) is used and when the visitors continuously burn the “Kyara” which was divided into small pieces light and shadow through aroma and aroma of “Kyara” as one wood is reproduced by the visitors. For the aroma of “Senko”, agilawood grown in Vietnam which is a perfect match for the aroma of “Kyara” is used to produce a mystic space.

Feb. 15-19, 2018 / Mono Japan 2018 / Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy, Amsterdam










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