What are Fujiko Nakaya’s fog sculptures all about?
Fujiko Nakaya's Fog Sculpture, London Fog #03779, Tate Modern London, 2017, photo Lorenzo Ferrarini.

Fujiko Nakaya - Fog Sculpture #08025 (F.O.G.) at Museo Guggenheim Bilbao
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #08025, 1998, Water fog generated by 1,000 fog nozzles and high-pressure pump/motor system, site-specific dimensions, Museo Guggenheim Bilbao

Introduction

Fujiko Nakaya’s work is simply transcendent. Primarily featuring fog, her ephemeral creations are always climate-responsive and influenced mainly by nature. Her works are moving and changing, as well as designed to allow visitors to enter and interact with them. Because the fog installations are always centered on nature, the audience experiences are always varied due to the changes in wind and temperature which occur throughout the day. This uniqueness is what has allowed her pieces to be featured in sites like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, as well as the Tate Modern in London, just to name a few.

The story behind the Fog Sculptures

Fujiko has been creating her foggy creations since the 1970s. Although not as popular in the U.S. as she is in other parts of the world, particularly Europe, Fujiko began making fog installations as a result of her interest in the concept of birth and death. At the start of her career, she mainly painted clouds but as artists and society, in general, started to get more aggressive in the 1960s, she switched from clouds to fog because she wanted a subject that could communicate the actuality of society while allowing audiences to interact with the environment.

Her first fog sculpture in 1970

Her first sculptures gained prominence after she collaborated with Experiments in Art and Technology1, an American-based non-profit organization that worked since 1967 alongside artists and engineers to create transformative art. Her first large installation was exhibited at the Pepsi Pavilion at Expo ’70 at Osaka, Japan. For the next decade, Fujiko focused all her energy into developing politically oriented video art, by means of her fog sculptures.

Pavilion exterior view showing Fujiko Nakaya’s “Fog Sculpture”, Robert Breer’s “Floats” and one tower of Forrest Myer’s “Light Frame” sculptures
Pavilion exterior view showing Fujiko Nakaya’s ‘Fog Sculpture’, Robert Breer’s ‘Floats’ and one tower of Forrest Myer’s ‘Light Frame’
Photo: Shunk-Kender/uncubemagazine.com

Fujiko Nakaya's Fog Sculpture at The Pepsi Pavilion, Osaka, 1970, complete with artificial cloud, kinetic sound, light sculptures, and walk-in spherical mirror
Fujiko Nakaya’s ‘Fog Sculpture’ at The Pepsi Pavilion, Osaka, 1970, complete with artificial cloud, kinetic sound, light sculptures, and walk-in spherical mirror
Photo: Shunk-Kender/uncubemagazine.com

Night-time exterior showing Fujiko Nakaya's “Fog Sculpture” and Robert Breer’s “Floats”, white domed sound sculptures moving slowing around the plaza, photo Shunk-Kender
Night-time exterior showing Fujiko Nakaya’s ‘Fog Sculpture’ and Robert Breer’s ‘Floats’, white domed sound sculptures moving slowing around the plaza
Photo: Shunk-Kender/uncubemagazine.com

First test of the “Fog Sculpture” by Fujiko Nakaya engulfing the pavilion
First test of the ‘Fog Sculpture’ by Fujiko Nakaya engulfing the pavilion

Installation of the nozzles for the “Fog Sculpture” by Fujiko Nakaya on the outer dome
Installation of the nozzles for the ‘Fog Sculpture’ by Fujiko Nakaya on the outer dome
Photo: Shunk-Kender/uncubemagazine.com

Collaborations

She often collaborates with other artists such as multimedia artist Bill Viola, architecture firm the Diller Scofidio & Renfro, and choreographer Trisha Brown to realize her vision for her installations. For instance, in 1998, she worked alongside Robert Rauschenberg to create the piece that currently sits at the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain. This work was subsequently purchased and donated to the museum where it can be viewed today as a permanent installation.

How the fog is created

Fujiko’s fog sculptures are made thanks to an ingenious combination of technology, architecture and nature. The fog she uses is created by a system she developed in 1969 with physicist Thomas Mee’s help. The system forces pressurized water through a tiny nozzle where it hits a pin that allows it to create fog that then spreads into droplets that are 20 or so microns wide.

Fujiko Nakaya – Fog sculptures, #72509 Fog x FLO, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, 2018
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog sculpture #72509, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, 2018
Photo: Melissa Ostrow/emeraldnecklace.org

Fujiko Nakaya – Fog sculptures, #72509 Fog x FLO, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, 2018
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog sculpture #72509, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, 2018
Photo: Melissa Ostrow/emeraldnecklace.org

About the artist

Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya has made a name for herself for creating artwork that uses fog as a medium. Her work can be categorized as both conceptual and site-specific art. One of her latest installations took place in the spring of 2018 at the Emerald Necklace in Boston.

Sculptures in the Mist- Fujiko Nakaya on Building Fog Sculptures for Boston's Emerald Necklace Parks
Photo: Melissa Ostrow/emeraldnecklace.org

Selected works

Fog Sculpture #18700, Blindern, Oslo, Norway, 2018

Fujiko Nakaya – Fog sculptures #18700, Blindern, Oslo, Norway 2018
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #18700, Blindern, Oslo, Norway
Photo: Ivar Kvaal/oslokunstforening.no

Fujiko Nakaya – Fog sculptures #18700, Blindern, Oslo, Norway 2018
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #18700, Blindern, Oslo, Norway
Photo: Ivar Kvaal/oslokunstforening.no

Fujiko Nakaya – Fog sculptures #18700, Blindern, Oslo, Norway 2018
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #18700, Blindern, Oslo, Norway
Photo: Ivar Kvaal/oslokunstforening.no

Fog Sculpture #07240 at Chaumont-sur-Loire, France, 2018

Cloud installation #07240 standing cloud, installation de Fujiko Nakaya à Chaumont-sur-Loire, 2018
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #07240, Chaumont-sur-Loire, France, 2018
Photo: Lynda Harris/jardinsalanglaise.wordpress.com

Cloud installation #07240 standing cloud, installation de Fujiko Nakaya à Chaumont-sur-Loire, 2018, photo Éric Sander
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #07240, Chaumont-sur-Loire, France, 2018
Photo: Éric Sander/domaine-chaumont.fr

Fog Sculpture #72509 at Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, 2018

Fujiko Nakaya Fog Sculpture #72509 at Clemente Field Path, Back Bay Fens, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, photo Melissa Ostrow
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #72509 at Clemente Field Path, Back Bay Fens, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA
Photo: Melissa Ostrow/emeraldnecklace.org

Fujiko Nakaya - Fog Sculpture #72509 at Hunnewell Hillside, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, photo Melissa Ostrow
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #72509 at Hunnewell Hillside, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA
Photo: Melissa Ostrow/emeraldnecklace.org

Fujiko Nakaya - Fog Sculpture #72509 at The Fens, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #72509 at The Fens, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA

Fujiko Nakaya - Fog Sculpture #72509 at Jamaica Pond, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, photo Melissa Ostrow
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #72509 at Jamaica Pond, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA
Photo: Melissa Ostrow/emeraldnecklace.org

Fujiko Nakaya - Fog Sculpture #72509 near The Beach, Jamaica Pond, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, photo Melissa Ostrow
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #72509 near The Beach, Jamaica Pond, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA
Photo: Melissa Ostrow/emeraldnecklace.org

Fujiko Nakaya - Fog Sculpture #72509 at Franklin Park, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, 2018 photo Melissa Ostrow
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #72509 at Franklin Park, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, 2018
Photo: Melissa Ostrow/emeraldnecklace.org

Fujiko Nakaya - Fog Sculpture #72509 at Franklin Park, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, photo Melissa Ostrow
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #72509 at Franklin Park, Emerald Necklace, Boston, USA, 2018
Photo: Melissa Ostrow/emeraldnecklace.org

Fog Sculpture #03779 at Tate Modern, London, 2017

Ariel View of Fujiko Nakaya's Fog Sculpture at Tate Modern, London, 2017
Aerial View of Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Sculpture at Tate Modern, London, 2017 on the South Terrace of Tate Modern’s Switch

Fujiko Nakaya's fog sculpture at Tate Modern, London, 2017, photo Wallpaper
Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Sculpture at Tate Modern, London, 2017 on the South Terrace of Tate Modern’s Switch
Photo: Tate Photography/tate.org.uk

Fujiko Nakaya's Fog Sculpture, London Fog #03779, Tate Modern London, 2017, photo Lorenzo Ferrarini.
Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Sculpture at Tate Modern, London, 2017 on the South Terrace of Tate Modern’s Switch
Photo: Lorenzo Ferrarini/artichoke.uk.com

Fujiko Nakaya's Fog Sculpture 'London Fog', 2017 on the South Terrace of Tate Modern’s Switch, photo Roman In London
Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Sculpture at Tate Modern, London, 2017 on the South Terrace of Tate Modern’s Switch
Photo: Roman In London/romaninlondon.com

Fog Sculpture #47412, Sapporo, Japan, 2014

Fujiko Nakaya - Fog Sculpture #47412, 2014, Creative City Sapporo
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #47412, 2014, Sapporo Art Museum
Photo: Creative City Sapporo/city.sapporo.jp

Fog Sculpture #47636, Sapporo, Japan, 2013

Fog Sculpture #47636 'Memory of Wind' by Fujiko Nakaya is an indication of what her fog sculpture will look like when it's released in Sapporo. | HIROSHI TANIGAWA
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #47636, Memory of Wind, Sapporo, Japan, 2013
Photo: Hiroshi Tanigawa/siaf.jp

Fog Sculpture #43555, Maldives, 2012

Fujiko Nakaya - Fog Sculpture #43555, Cloud Tree of Maldives, Maldives, 2012, photo Kenji Morita
Fujiko Nakaya – Fog Sculpture #43555, Cloud Tree of Maldives, Maldives, 2012
Photo: Kenji Morita/artichoke.uk.com

Fog Sculpture #94925, Canberra, 1982

Fujiko Nakaya - Foggy wake in a desert- An ecosphere 1982 Description Fog sculpture #94925 Materials & Technique sculptures, water vapour
Fujiko Nakaya – Foggy wake in a desert- An ecosphere, 1982, National Gallery of Australia’s Sculpture Garden, Canberra

Fujiko Nakaya - Foggy wake in a desert- An ecosphere 1982 Description Fog sculpture #94925 Materials & Technique sculptures, water vapour
Fujiko Nakaya – Foggy wake in a desert- An ecosphere, 1982, National Gallery of Australia’s Sculpture Garden, Canberra

All images: Fujiko Nakaya/blainsouthern.com unless otherwise noted.

Related works

Related readings

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experiments_in_Art_and_Technology
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