kanata / Yumi Kori

Yumi Kori, kanata, 2008



water, wood, rubber, light, sound system

“Kanata” means “far in the distance” in Japanese. It can imply simply a far off place or the space that exists beyond one’s perception. Working as an architect and visual artist, Yumi Kori creates spatial installations: worlds to inhabit and experience. Here Kori immerses us in an underground ocean of darkness, causing the viewer to lose some sense of space and time. The visitor is drawn to the pier—walking out over the water. There is an almost gravitational pull toward the red doorway, a rectangle of hazy light that appears in the darkness. It calls to us—inviting, yet forbidding. The red rectangular outline frames a textured space behind, offering a tangible reality, and yet some part of it is a reflection. Kori is not just offering an abstract space or form, the red doorway is instead a convergence of reality and illusion. It fluctuates like an optical illusion between depth and flatness depending on where the viewer focuses their attention or depth perception. Visitors feel like they are traveling and yet go nowhere physically, but instead somewhere in the mind, between eye and brain.

The piece encourages us to ask some existential questions: why are we here? This is a space in which to contemplate existence. Kori is interested in creating desire in the audience—the desire to “go”—somewhere—but where? Why do we all have this desire to “go”—where are we going? She is asking us to consider: what is the purpose of this life; where are we all headed on our personal journeys? Is it destiny or Karma that determines the course of our life? The space is like a hidden lagoon under the movement of every day life above; visitors and staff in the Mattress Factory building. The sound installation—a layering of white noise that Kori composed for the work, creates and accentuates the self-contained nature of the space.
Artist Statement
I hope the viewer will obtain a contemplative state of mind by looking at the light space in the dark water and be able to travel beyond the worldly.
About the Artist
Yumi Kori is a practicing architect and is the principal of Studio Myu, a Tokyo-based architecture firm. She is also adjunct professor of architecture at Barnard College and Columbia University. She has twice won honorable mention from The Architectural Review's prestigious AR+D award: once for a building in Japan and the other for an installation in Germany. Kori's work focuses on individual spatial experience and sophisticated use of light in her installations. Rather than employing light to illuminate objects, she uses it to focus and contain the viewer's visual field.
April 26, 2008 - January 11, 2009
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