Accurate Whiteness Rendering Crystallizes the Meaning Behind Mika Aoki’s Glass Sculptures
February 2019 - by SORAA
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Contemporary artist Mika Aoki illustrates the complexities of nature’s unseen forces with glass sculptures emanating various shades of white. Her subjects include fungi, cells and other biological wonders invisible to the human eye. Aoki has a keen understanding of color and the role light plays in her work, giving her the ability to create harmony, manifesting these microscopic subjects in a way the human eye can see and find an appreciation in the tiniest of details.
Since 2013, Aoki has crafted glass sculptures providing viewers the opportunity to experience nature and the color white through a unique lens. Aoki’s “The Forest That Leads To You” exhibit at the POLA MUSEUM ANNEX in Tokyo, for example, explored the themes of living, dying, movement, growth and evolution with glass art.
While interviewing Aoki, we learned about an eye-opening experience that cemented her fascination with the color white early in life. Read on to learn more about Aoki and the importance of accurate whiteness rendering when illuminating her work (photos by Sai Photograph).
SORAA: What inspires you, and how would you describe your artistic style?
Mika Aoki: Life itself is the most beautiful and mysterious source of inspiration for my work. For many years, I have created works exploring the question, “What is invisible life?” To answer this question, I have worked to express the emotions of wonder, beauty and the transience of life.
I would say the concept of my artwork is expressing the conditions of “invisible” life. Through my work, I explore themes such as the connection of life and memories of life. For example, I have made glass works inspired by microscopic shapes, such as fungi and cells, as motifs.
What does the color white symbolize to you?
MA: Innocence. Purity. A place to meditate. Nothing. Zero.
You grew up in Hokkaido, Japan, where it snows often in the winter. How do shades of white in nature inspire you?
MA: When I was a child, I lived in a hill in Hokkaido. One night, when I was walking back home by myself in the winter, I spotted something I had never seen before: a snowflake. The small, fluffy white dot was falling toward me from the sky and kept increasing in size. Some snowflakes were even shining, thanks to the streetlights. Fascinated by the fantastic view, I stopped walking to enjoy snow for the first time. Soon enough, the fluffy white snowflakes covered the world as I knew it without making a sound. They were shining different shades of white from every direction, and I think this experience influenced my work and me a lot.
What does glass as a medium symbolize to you?
MA: Until now, I have worked primarily with clear glass. A main characteristic of glass is the possibility of breakage at any moment. The fluidity and solidity of glass makes it my preferred medium as I explore the nature of life. I am interested in the phenomenon of looking at glass objects; the way one’s body automatically senses the fragility of glass and feels the tension strikes the viewer’s five senses.
What is one of your favorite art pieces?
MA: “Her Songs are Floating” is my favorite piece, because I felt it was dramatic while making use of silent space.
How important are quality lighting and whiteness rendering when illuminating your pieces?
MA: I test many approaches when illuminating my works, such as using different lights, angles and settings. Proper lighting is extremely important as it influences how people see and experience my work, because glass comes to life with light.
I primarily use clear glass, so without light, my sculptures are almost invisible. With strong light, however, my sculptures shine. When I first saw my sculptures illuminated with SORAA lamps, the whiteness felt so unique and beautiful. That’s why I continue using SORAA products to illuminate my works. SORAA’s whiteness rendering is quite different compared to other LEDs. It makes my world a more pure space.
Learn more about Mika Aoki's work at her website.
Portrait photography by Hiromi Shinada.