Last Updated:Jul 3, 2015

A Glowing Goddess

Futuristic fashion by Japanese new media artist Sputniko!

Ready for adventure and conquest: Amy's suit and silk cocoons were viewed through color-filtering glasses. Masaya Kushino, who also collaborated on 'Nanohana Heels', designed the shoes.
Ready for adventure and conquest: Amy's suit and silk cocoons were viewed through color-filtering glasses. Masaya Kushino, who also collaborated on 'Nanohana Heels', designed the shoes.
Photo: Jennifer Pastore

“Tranceflora— Amy’s Glowing Silk,” shown at Gucci Shinjuku last month, told the unusual tale of a girl, Amy, who meets someone special, falls in love, and genetically engineers silkworms to make a glowing, fragrant, aphrodisiac-enhanced supersuit to snare her beloved’s heart. That’s the origin myth behind this exhibit by Sputniko! (Hiromi Ozaki), the Japanese-British MIT assistant professor and 2013 Vogue Japan Woman of the Year, who is known for her narrative projects that fuse art and technology.

Sputniko!’s previous works include Menstruation Machine— Takashi’s Take (2010). It’s a music video starring a boy named Takashi who wears a device simulating the blood and cramps of a period to see what it’s like to be a woman. Crowbot Jenny (2011) is a video about a girl who builds a machine for communicating with crows, and Nanohana Heels (2012), is a pair of shoes that plant radioactivity-absorbing rapeseeds (nanohana) as the wearer walks. All of these works are based on real technologies.

Strings of silkworm cocoons illuminated the space.
Strings of silkworm cocoons illuminated the space.
Photo: Jennifer Pastore
Bioengineered silkworm moths produced the fabric for Amy's suit.
Bioengineered silkworm moths produced the fabric for Amy's suit.
Photo: Jennifer Pastore

The silk's fluorescence comes from jellyfish or coral DNA injected into silkworm eggs by scientists at Japan's National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences.
The silk's fluorescence comes from jellyfish or coral DNA injected into silkworm eggs by scientists at Japan's National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences.
Photo: Jennifer Pastore

Hosoo, a woven textile manufacturer from Kyoto with 1,200 years of history, created the fabric for Amy's suit with Gucci's floral pattern.
Hosoo, a woven textile manufacturer from Kyoto with 1,200 years of history, created the fabric for Amy's suit with Gucci's floral pattern.
Photo: Jennifer Pastore

A video projection of Amy (model Saila Kunikida) in her dazzling garb, post-transformation. The subject turns herself into a high-tech Aphrodite.
A video projection of Amy (model Saila Kunikida) in her dazzling garb, post-transformation. The subject turns herself into a high-tech Aphrodite.
Photo: Jennifer Pastore

Ultimately, the exhibit speaks to that which is ancient and eternal rather than the futuristic; technologies, fashions, and norms change, but female allure has a long and diverse history and inevitable future.

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Jennifer Pastore

Jennifer Pastore

Jennifer Pastore is a writer, editor, and translator for Tokyo Art Beat. Her thoughts on the Japanese art scene can also be found at artscape Japan and in other publications.

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