Language of shape
Printed in photoplate lithography, photopolymer letterpress, inkjet print on Japanese paper and Bahun paper
H 12.25″ x w 7″ x D .75″
Language of shape – Artist Statement I created Language of shape as a gesture of appreciation – and reminder – of the delicate and exquisite natural world that we all embrace and share. It consists of two hand-bound books and one folded lithograph encased in a flat box (approximately 31 x 18 x 2 cm). All the original Japanese texts and their English translations are laid out together as part of the design.
The first book printed on black Japanese paper, Language of shape – N.U. read the snow, is a poem interlaced with the words of Japanese scientists, Nakaya Ukichiro and Terada Torahiko. “Snowflakes are letters sent from the sky”, said Nakaya, who dedicated his research to the relationship between midair weather conditions and the shape of snow crystals. On the back pages of the poem are lithographs of sodium sulfate crystals that I grew myself, photographed, arranged as “type”, and then printed in silver ink. While they are reminiscent of Nakaya’s “letters from the sky”, they may also suggest the existence of numerous undiscovered languages and their precious messages in the world. Each reedshaped page folded in three measures 90 cm long and unfolds vertically. The pages are fixed to an accordion pleat (as in concertina binding), with thinly cut japanese-paper.
As different folded edges are bound to the pleat, each spread opens with a different number of pages towards the top and bottom, changing the format of the book as the reader goes through it. (Lithography on Ise Iroshibu paper; Dimension: 30 x 17.5 cm, 36 pages) The second book, White landscape, incorporates a close-up of yoghurt I photographed in the kitchen, to complement Nakaya Ukichiro’s descriptions of Alaskan and Arctic landscapes I quoted from his essay.
While studying snow, Nakaya also conducted research on ice in the polar regions. A teacher of Nakaya, Terada Torahiko once explained the mechanism of such meteorological phenomena as rainbows, fog, and heat haze with just a bowl of hot water, in his essay A bowl of hot water.* It helped me conceive all phenomena on the earth as part of one continuous connection, from the palm of one’s hand to the end of the universe. It is my hope that readers might visualize the majestic polar vista while looking at my “yoghurt landscape”, and that it evokes a sense of the connectedness of all things as Terada’s passage did for me. (Resin letterpress and inkjet on Bafun paper; Dimension: 30 x 17.5 cm, 16 pages) The third element is a folded lithograph printed on thin Japanese paper.
The image is one of the photographs of the sodium sulfate crystals, before they became “type” to be composed and printed on black Japanese paper in the first book. (Lithography on Bicchu Torinoko ganpi paper; Dimension: 40 x 60 cm) Part of the poem in the first black book reads: Being is words If words touch the heart their meaning is shared with others If nature could talk to us in words, what would it be saying now? With no boundaries between living and non-living things, I hope my idea of “shapes as letters” inspires readers to imagine the respective messages of diverse beings on the planet. * Terada Torahiko, Chawan no Yu [A bowl of hot water] (1922)