Since 1970, Fujiko Nakaya has created numerous site-specific fog installations in cities as far-flung as Sydney, Paris, New York, Bilbao, Shanghai, Toronto, Riga and Japan. She collaborated with choreographers (Trisha Brown), musicians ( David Tudor), other artists (Bill Viola, Robert Wilson, Hiroshi Teshigawara) and architects (Diller+Scofidio, Arata Isozaki) to lend her fog to sound, music and dance.
|Trisha Brown dance Company, Opal Loop/Cloud Installation #72503, 1980|
Existing somewhere between 'experience-oriented' sculpture, environment and performance Fujiko Nakaya's fog works draw from radical experimentation of the 1960s.
In 1968 Nakaya begun working with the seminal group Experiments in Art Technology (E.A.T), which was an association of artists and engineers founded by Bell Telephone Laboratories engineer Billy Kluver. Her first project with E.A.T. was Pepsi Pavilion for Osaka Expo'70, which unsightly dome she shrouded in the cloud of fog. It was then, when she started her forty-year long collaboration with Pasadena-based cloud physicist Thomas Mae who for her request invented a people-friendly water-generated fog.
|Pepsi Pavilion for Osaka Expo, fog sculpture #47773, 1970|
Her fog sculptures derive their specificity from a matrix of topographical and meteorological conditions. Nakaya's research into the weather conditions of a particular site is thus key to the development of her projects. Indeed each work bears the code number of the international weather station where it is, or was, sited.
Whole history of sculpture can be read into Nakaya's fogscapes. Her works can also be seen as challenging the tenets of minimalism, which had dominated artistic production and in particular sculpture, for the earlier part of the 1960s. Turning her back on the industrial materials of Minimalism - lead, steel, and copper - she courted ephemeral media to create semblances of natural phenomena. Fog, in Nakaya's hands, is a force of decomposition. In her own words, fog responds constantly to its own environment, revealing and concealing the features of the environment. Fog makes visible things become invisible and invisible - like wind - become visible.
|Philip Johnson's Glass House, Veil, 2014|
In 1953 Robert Rauschenberg (Nakaya's later friend and collaborator) erased a drawing that he requested from Willem de Kooning expressly for that purpose. Rauschenberg put the drawing in a gold leaf frame with a handwritten label that read: Erased de Kooning Drawing, Robert Rauschenberg 1953. Nakaya's fog environments share something in common with Rauschenberg's gesture.