Creative talents meld to cross boundaries for ‘pleasant feelings of strangeness’

The Japan News

From left, Ichiro Yamaguchi, Kunihiko Morinaga and Kengo Kuma stand in the “more than Reason” exhibition room at the Lixil Gallery in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, on July 19.

By Ayako Hirayama / Japan News Staff Writer Three sought-after talents in architecture, music and fashion are eager to push past the boundaries of their genres to embody the subtle beauty of something in between and create “pleasant feelings of strangeness.”

Kengo Kuma, a renowned architect who has recently been involved in the design of the new National Stadium to be used for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, has selected unusual collaborators: Ichiro Yamaguchi, frontman of Sakanaction, the popular Sapporo band known for sounds that feature rock, dance and folk music; and Kunihiko Morinaga, a designer who incorporates tech and couture in his fashion brand Anrealage, which had its Paris Fashion Week debut in 2014.

The multidisciplinary collaborations have resulted in the “more than Reason” exhibition, which opened recently at the Lixil Gallery in Tokyo. It is part of the exhibition series “Future of Creation” that launched in 2014. Four prominent creators in the nation’s art and architecture scenes, including Kuma, take turns overseeing the three-month-long exhibitions. This is Kuma’s fifth turn, and he wanted to put on an exhibition in a “different way.”

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  • The Japan News

    A pleated skirtlike object that extends to the ceiling and walls

  • The Japan News

    Kengo Kuma speaks during the opening ceremony of the “more than Reason” exhibition at the Lixil Gallery in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, on July 19, as Kunihiko Morinaga, center, and Ichiro Yamaguchi look on.

“This exhibition has allowed people to experience a space without the boundaries of architecture and garments, into which three different sound sources are incorporated,” Kuma said during the opening ceremony of the exhibition. “I’ve seen various forms of architecture, but this one is unusual.”

The exhibition, the 19th in the series, consists of two contrasting black and white rooms, each of which has an object looking like a pleated skirt that grows to the ceiling and across the walls. The presentation blurs the boundaries of architecture and clothing with music bringing another dimension to the space.

Visitors receive three cards, each of which has a haiku poem prepared by Kuma, Yamaguchi or Morinaga. When QR codes on the back of the cards are scanned, visitors can access three sound sources created by Yamaguchi using binaural recording for an immersive listening experience that gives listeners 3D sound in their headphones or earphones.

“I think we’ve been able to create pleasant feelings of strangeness in each genre of architecture, music and fashion by blending things that aren’t supposed to be blended,” Yamaguchi said.

They began discussing ideas for the exhibition this spring. Kuma, 64, and Yamaguchi, 38, quickly became close through a radio talk show, while Yamaguchi and Morinaga, who were both born in 1980, have already collaborated for Paris collections and other events.

“At first, I was worried about how we could make the space seamless, as our fields are greatly different,” Morinaga said. “But the more we’ve worked together, the more similarities we’ve found.”

This observation was echoed by his collaborators. Yamaguchi said their fields have a common aspect of controlling and designing the “mood” of people and space.

“Architecture has influence in creating a certain mood, while people’s moods can be affected by what they wear. Similarly for music, if jazz is played, the mood in the space becomes controlled by jazz,” said Yamaguchi, who worked on the sound in the exhibition room until the last minute to reflect his mood in the space.

Kuma expressed his hope that the like-minded trio can take advantage of occasions like this exhibition to demonstrate such mood-designing effects of their fields and seek unexpected experiences that could go beyond “reasoning.”

The “more than Reason” exhibition is set as a prologue, as they intend to explore further directions for their collaborations. “We’ve come up with various collaboration ideas and many of them have yet to take shape.” Morinaga said. “I hope we will give them shape sometime.”

■ Exhibition information

Date: Through Sept. 24

Open hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Wednesdays, and Aug. 10-15, 25)

Venue: Lixil Gallery in Chuo Ward, Tokyo

Admission: FreeSpeech

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