cloud

 Hidaka Erika has produced a see-through bench that blends into the landscape of Towada’s central shopping district. Walking along the street, one suddenly spies a billowing shape, and upon further inspection, notices depressions in its surface.
 Hidaka notes that she wanted to create a space where visitors could sit down and take a break on the street. The volume that is Cloud can be likened to air, having a faint presence, and forms an entirely new landscape.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

Kondo Tetsuo has made this street furniture, titled pot, in a variety of shapes and sizes. The pieces can be used as benches for a quick break, or planters and vases tended by shops in central Towada. All were made to encourage interaction on the streets of Towada.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 MOUNT FUJI ARCHITECTS STUDIO is an architectural unit comprising HARADA Masahiro and Mao, that provides comprehensive designs for the quality of living environments through the design and production of interiors, streetscapes, and furniture, as well as architectural planning. Here is what they thought when they visited Towada: “Snowflakes in winter, cherry blossoms in spring, rays of sunlight in summer, falling leaves in autumn, and artworks dotted around the city— there is always something dancing in the city’s clear air.” Towada is thus filled with beautiful, unsullied fragments of the four seasons, each fragment floating around freely. To express this impression of the city, they arranged in flakes, an artwork of benches, on Kanchogai Avenue, as if gently carried there on the breeze.
 in flakes is made of stainless steel with the surface polished to a mirror shine. Mirrors reflect many things. Sitting on these art benches, one can enjoy the sight of fragments of the four seasons in Towada, such as floating leaves and sunlight filtering down through the trees, in spring, perhaps even having the experience of “floating” with the cherry blossoms.
 Wouldn’t Towada’s beauty suddenly seem even more special by seeing it reflected in mirrors? These art benches on the street cannot reflect everything in Towada, but when they do reflect things, it is as though the city’s very beauty has been captured within. in flakes shows us how to appreciate the city’s unrestrained beauty.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 Two large pillows sit on Kanchogai Avenue. Each has a dent in the middle as if someone had been sleeping with their head on it just a short time ago.
 Liu Jianhua, who has been familiar with ceramics since childhood, reproduces ordinary, everyday articles, such as books, stuffed toys, shoes, hats, and bags, in the form of earthenware, and presents these as sculptures.
 Generally speaking, pillows are essential to our daily lives. They are usually placed in the bedroom, so why are these two big pillows located on the street? Here we may identify the huge contrast between personal daily lives and public spaces, dreams, and reality, individual and many, night and day. These pillows connect each one of these and its opposite. A feeling of wrongness is common when finding something completely out of place. One wonders why it is there. The situation is so incomprehensible as to be surprising, funny, and emotionally swaying.
 At the same time, the two pillows shake the boundaries between the private and public, since they enable the very personal act of sleeping to be witnessed by passersby. The hollows in the middle of the pillows suggest that the persons sleeping there until a little while ago might return. If that happened, who would own the spaces around the pillows?
 This story implies that places have the potential to harbor many different kinds of meanings. Let us imagine ourselves sleeping while sitting on dents left by someone on the pillows.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 In front of Towada Municipal Central Hospital stands the artwork Worms-A, consisting of colorful benches curved like snakes.
 The word “worm” has multiple meanings. One is a creature with a long soft body and no legs. Another is a self-replicating computer program that prevents a computer from operating correctly. So, why is an art bench named for a small invertebrate, and shaped like one?
 Kanchogai Avenue has many art benches apart from Worms-A, all available for seating. While the benches are important as artworks, they also need to complement their surroundings, in their role as part of what makes up the city of Towada. If they were not seen as benches, nobody would sit on them. The question is how to make art blend into the city, and one answer, from Layla Juma A. Rashid, is to make a piece of art look like it is everywhere. Her idea is not only to make an artwork but also to make people believe that the work is naturally all around them. Her intention in naming the work Worms-A was to diminish the dignified nature that the word “art” itself, allowing the piece to integrate seamlessly into the cityscape, and Worms-A is a wonderful artwork that achieves just that.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 This bench, made of colorful tiles laid out randomly, is called Twelve Level Bench. The furniture seems to be inviting passersby to sit down on it and relax, and indeed the artist Maider López created the work to show the symbiotic relationship between space and people. Although rigid in design with tiles that are made to precise dimensions, the space is surprisingly free, leaving the interpretation of it as art to be governed by its surroundings.
 The tiles used for this bench are the same size as those used for the pavement, so the ground looks as though it has moved up to different levels. The artist wants to show the relationship between urban life and urban innovation and invites people to help construct her art by interacting with the piece. Twelve Level Bench can be used for multiple purposes: just relaxing, resting a coffee, leaning back, spreading a newspaper, waiting for friends, chatting, and playing games. The bench is placed by a bus stop, and the surrounding space is meant to be not just a place to take a rest, but also a meeting spot or place to chat with friends. The meaning of the space in which the artwork is located is thus essentially determined by who uses the bench and how they spend their time using it. In this way, Twelve Level Bench affects its surroundings, and in doing so transforms the space itself into a work of art.
 If nothing happens in a place where nothing exists, you will still see nothing. But if somebody steps into the place, the appearance of the city will change. Twelve Level Bench can be seen as seeking to suggest how a city might be built.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya


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