I first knew about Azuma Makoto and AMKK (東信、花樹研究所), his ‘floral & fauna lab’, from his collaboration Belle Epoque Florale with Perrier-Jouët. The lightness of the white floral suspended in a silver thin wire cube, a sense of minimalist aesthetic embody by many contemporary Japanese designer; A quality that had won the hearts of the world many times over and captivated me effortlessly.
As if merely suspending flowers in mid-air is not enough to satisfy the artist’s appetite, EXOBIOTANICA brings this quality to the next level. The project is all about removing the context of life and suspending life, as objects, in a vacuum space. But it’s also about human’s desire to journey into the unknown space, to attempt in understanding an unfamiliar environment.
‘Plants on the earth rooted in the soil, under the command of gravity.
Roots, soil and gravity – by giving up the links to life, what kind of “beauty” shall be born?
Within the harsh “nature”, at an attitude of 30,000 meters and minus 50 degrees Celsius,
the plants evolve into EXBIOTA (extraterrestrial life).
A pine tree confronting the ridge line of the Earth.
A bouquet of flowers marching towards the sun hit by the intense wind.
Freed from everything, the plants shall head to the space.’
– Azuma Makoto
Of course, all this had to be done poetically.
Sharp and vibrant photos of delicate petals breaking away from the colourful bouquet, like diasporas making oblique journeys from the mother ship and voyage into the unknown. A 50 year old pine seemingly floating in the thin air, exploring an entirely new scenery that is both refreshing and shocking even to its half-a-century soul. All these voyage folding out against a simple background of varying blues and white, both familiar and peculiar at the same time. This is without doubt a visual feast on the eye and prompting me to check out the go-pro cameras sponsored by Fuji-film.
To add on to it, the whole process is not unlike the solemn procession at Gion Matsuri with Makoto and his team dress in black robes embroidered with the project logo. The desolateness of the Nevada Desert as its launch pad and of course the attentiveness of the team in putting together the delicate botanical sculptures. It may be a project made possible by science and technology but ultimately it has a primordial edge to it.
One question left me wondering. The bonsai and bouquet were never found when the devices returned to earth. Assuming they are left behind in that space that is void of oxygen and H2O, will they remain forever frozen in that state and time? And perhaps someday some extraterrestrial being would encounter it and took an interest in Gaia?
I will leave that question to more rational minds than mine to figure out.
*all image courtesy of http://azumamakoto.com/