Earlier in the year, I had the chance to visit a wonderful interactive exhibition focusing on Japanese food culture housed in a repurposed abandoned building in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. Produced by MOMENT FACTORY, a digital art studio, the exhibit was divided into four installations, telling the story of traditional, seasonal and local cuisine known as washoku (和食).

Valley of the Four Seasons

On the first floor, visitors passed through a darkened space containing suspended projection screens showing images of bamboo forests which cycle through all the four seasons as you walk through. Visitors could interact with the animation on the rear wall by waving their hands to illuminate different sections.

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The Four Ways

The next floor evokes the cooking processes of grilling (焼), frying (揚), boiling (煮) and steaming (蒸). Projections pass through a screen with seven separate layers which produce a 3D effect. A depth scanner responds to visitors movements which are used to influence the animation in real time.

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The Sanctuary

The next space, a semi-circled hall, was lit by bamboo lanterns on the floor and contains four screens showing visualisations of the four essential elements of Japanese cooking: ageing (fermentation or pickling), utensils, sake, and dashi broth. The history and origin of each item were explained.

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A Dialog with Rice

On the next floor up, visitors could submerge their hands into giant Chawan (茶碗) bowls of rice. Projection mapping was used to shine a light down onto the rice showing the contours of the landscape created in the bowls.

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On the top floor, visitors could sample dishes prepared by famous chefs, thus completing the sensory experience.

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