New Material × Old Material

Artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s architectural projects with the New Material Research Laboratory

poster for “New Material Research Laboratory・— New Material × Old Material”

“New Material Research Laboratory・— New Material × Old Material”

at Archi-Depot Museum
in the Tokyo: Others area
This event has ended - (2018-10-21 - 2019-03-03)

In Reviews by Emily Saya Niemann 2018-12-15

Hiroshi Sugimoto (L) and Tomoyuki Sakakida (R) at Archi-Depot MuseumHiroshi Sugimoto stood alongside architect Tomoyuki Sakakida as the two introduced themselves at the opening for New Material Research Laboratory・-New Material x Old Material. This exhibit can bee seen at the Archi-Depot Museum, which is operated by Warehouse Terrada and located just a few minutes’ walk from Tennozu Isle Station.

Acclaimed worldwide as a photographer, Sugimoto is renowned for projects such as his eerie yet strikingly beautiful long-exposure images of theatres. Before establishing his own practice in 2003, Sakakida worked for the prestigious architectural firm Nihon Sekkei Architects, with projects including the elegant AO Aoyama building. He currently teaches at Kyoto University of Art and Design and acts as director for the New Material Research Laboratory (NMRL), which he cofounded with Sugimoto in 2008.

“New Material x Old Material” celebrates the duo’s roots in Japanese materials research and design. It showcases the ten years of achievements by the NMRL, which states its mission is to “undertake the challenge of reinterpreting and reimagining the use of materials and construction methods from ancient and medieval times and apply them in the modern setting.”

Entrance with model of 'Go-Oh Shrine/Appropriate Proportions' (2002)

As you enter the space, you will be greeted by traditional Japanese straw brooms, setting the tone for the appreciation of old materials. In addition to viewing architectural models throughout the exhibition, you will learn how traditional Japanese “found” materials such as stones from the Kyushu region are now being utilized in a modern urban context. The entryway also presents the model for an unexpected architectural commission work, Go-Oh Shrine/Appropriate Proportions (2002). This site on the island of Naoshima ignited Sugimoto’s interest in architecture, which eventually led him to collaborate with Sakakida in establishing an architectural practice.

Gorgeous prints highlight the eight major projects by NMRL, as well as one of Sugimoto’s special gems: the photo series ‘Seascapes’ (1980–). Installed with an exceptional curatorial eye, shikigawara floor tiles (a signature NMRL design element) serve as a tribute to Japanese design and offer a tactile experience beneath your feet as you move throughout the show. Sugimoto’s talent and devotion to his practice is further highlighted in a video clip about the Enoura Observatory, which opened in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture in 2017.

Installation view with 'shikigawara' tiles
'Seascapes' print (left wall) with model and photos of 'Enoura Observatory'

Sugimoto and Sakakida demonstrate a spectacular partnership through their mission of presenting old materials in new lights. A little excursion out to Shinagawa is worth the trip as visitors can also tour the museum’s warehouse, which specializes in preserving and displaying the architectural studies and finished models of world-renowned buildings both in Japan and overseas. Admission also includes access to Nomadic Rhapsody in exhibition room B and a free copy of NMRL’s portfolio booklet with high-quality color photographs.

Emily Saya Niemann

Emily Saya Niemann. Emily studied art history at UCLA. She then came to Japan and pursued her M.A. in Japanese Studies at Sophia University. Her research explored the dichotomy of Japanese-American identity/race. Her final master's project was titled: "The problem of mystifying historical tropes of Japan in contemporary museum context: a case study on Lords of the Samurai at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco". Her interest in identity stems from being half Japanese and half American herself. In her spare time, she thinks about how absurd life is. You can follow her on Instagram: @emilys.niemann Photo: Yuki Yamamoto » See other writings

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