WOW: City Lights and Woodland Shade, Japan House, 110-111 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 5SA; 21st Nov 2019 - 22nd Mar 2020; free
Explore the contrasting worlds of Japan’s urban future and rural traditions in WOW’s new digital art installation at Japan House London, WOW: City Lights and Woodland Shade.
From 21 November 2019 – 22 March 2020 Japan House hosts the mesmerising digital displays of multidisciplinary visual design studio, WOW. Showcasing their first UK solo exhibition, WOW’s unique approach to digital arts is a must-see on the London events calendar this winter.
Japan House presents two installations by WOW looking at both the urban future and timelessness of rural Japan. WOW’s ‘Tokyo Light Odyssey’ welcomes visitors to experience a mind-bending 360-degree journey through Japan’s capital city by night, to herald 2020 and the year when the world looks to Tokyo for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. At once familiar – with neon lights emanating from train stations and convenience store logos floating in the darkness – the artists use omnidirectional motion graphics to contort the known world to present an entirely new interpretation of Tokyo’s cityscape. Along the journey, visitors can ride the Yamanote Line, explore the skyscrapers and capsule hotels of the world’s largest capital city and see its iconic Tokyo Tower seamlessly floating as a fragment of the night sky. The installation, which lasts five minutes and 25 seconds, promises to leave visitors with a lingering sense of having emerged from a dream.
While ‘Tokyo Light Odyssey’ focusses on scenes of the city, ‘POPPO’ is an excursion into the folk art of Japan’s countryside. This digital display includes three different installations focussing on kokeshi – wooden dolls and O-taka poppo – carved wooden figures in the shape of hawks, both originating in the T ō hoku region of north-eastern Japan, highlighting WOW’s roots in Sendai.
Upon entering the exhibition visitors are greeted by the ‘POPPO Woods’ – an installation which welcomes visitors to attach magnetic tree segments to the Gallery walls to summon digital birds. Each bird is unique to the region of T ō hoku and is a talismanic symbol.
Moving on, touch screens allow visitors to carve their own kokeshi doll or wooden toy and digitize them to become part of the exhibition, displayed on the walls of the Gallery.
In the final part of this installation, the faces of 130 citizens of Yamagata Prefecture are digitally projected on to unpainted wooden kokeshi dolls. The body of the dolls, which are imbued with auspicious meaning, are decorated using designs from a veteran Japanese kokeshi maker based in Zao Onsen.
Photo technology also allows visitors to project their own faces on to the kokeshi, to create their own unique doll. This display invites those of all ages to marvel at WOW’s imaginative representation of folk art in the digital age, as well as touch, play and immerse themselves within the exhibition.