Revealing the inside of a cloud, reproducing on the skin the sensation of the droplets making it up: this is the aim of Fujiko Nakaya, an inspired conjuror of dream-like fog sculptures. “I create a scene so that nature can express itself within” she explains. “I am a sculptor of fog, but I do not attempt to shape it. The atmosphere is the mould, the wind – the burin.”
Though infused with poetry, the artist’s installations are the fruit of a long period spent engineering and subtly collaborating with water, air and even time. She fashions the elements, playing with shadow and light, somewhat similar to a videographer’s work.
She makes use of high-pressure drinking water sprays which dispense fine, volatile particles of mist. Then she calculates the ebb and flow of the water, adjusts the direction of the nozzles and employs fans to speed up the movement or lighting which warms the atmosphere and gives rise to vertical movements of fog.
She seeks to call on the visitors’ physical presence and senses as she believes they also have a role to play. As “kilos of joules”, they change the evaporation process.
As a pioneer of technological art, Fujiko Nakaya expresses, through her ephemeral works, her fascination with natural phenomena which are constantly forming and deforming and endeavours to forge afresh the connection between the public and nature.
Born in 1933 in Sapporo, and having spent time living in France, the United States and Spain, Fujiko Nakaya is a Japanese artist renowned for her fog sculptures. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, United States, she started out painting clouds before setting her hand to creating them. It was in 1970 at the Osaka World Expo that she produced the world’s first “fog sculpture” by decking the Pepsi Pavilion out in an immense veil of fog. In the 1980s and ‘90s she gained international recognition as a video artist and advocate of the alternative arts, but she continued to conjure up ambitious fog sculptures and installations in Japan, Australia, the United States and Europe. Temporary or permanent, her showpieces include site-specific installations and participation in artistic performances. In particular, she has worked with the American choreographer Trisha Brown and video artist Bill Viola.