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“Chijikinkutsu” [2013–15]




Several hundred glasses with attached induction-coils are lined up at the exhibition space. Each glass is filled with water, on which magnetized sewing needles are floating. Through the effect of geomagnetism, the needles are all aligned in a north-south direction, whereas the magnetic variation caused by electricity that intermittently flows through the coils sometimes makes the needles touch the glass and make delicate sounds.

“Chijikinkutsu” is a term coined by the artist by combining the words chijiki (geomagnetism) and suikinkutsu (“water harp cave”). Geomagnetism is the magnetic property of the earth, a phenomenon that according to studies affects the behavior of migratory birds and other creatures, but that is yet to be fully explained. Although unable to sense geomagnetism directly, humans casually utilize the effects of geomagnetism in daily life via such devices as compasses or smartphones’ built-in compass functions.

The suikinkutsu is an ornamental acoustic mechanism that has been traditionally used in Japanese gardens, especially at tea houses. A pot with a hole is buried upside down near the tsukubai (purification basin in front of a tea house), and when water drips into the pot through the hole, it makes a pleasant sound. One of the tsukubai’s functions is to separate the tea house from the ordinary daily life space around it, whereas the sounds of the suikinkutsu trigger a switch in the visitor’s consciousness from the world outside to that of the tea house.

A visual and acoustic expression of the presence of geomagnetism through needles pointing in the same direction, and through sounds generated when that condition is disturbed by electric currents, the experience of this work makes us realize how our living environments are made up of elements beyond human perception.



List of Works