Komorebi (light through the trees) - 2017 exhibited at Shoyeido Gallery Kyoto (2019)

Author: Boris Raux

Image 1  Komorebi  exhibited at Shoyeido Gallery, Kyoto (March 2019)

Image 1 Komorebi exhibited at Shoyeido Gallery, Kyoto (March 2019)

Komorebi is an artwork that seeks to produce a 'Natsukashii'  feeling based on the memory of having being in the middle of a forest alone. It can be defined as a contemporary artwork that follows the tradition of landscape painting but, compared with this art form, also deals with two dynamics simultaneously. Firstly, it is a representation and secondly, a re-enactment (a (re)presentation), as it generates an immediate sensorial and immersive experience. It is intended that this re-embodiment into the present produces an immersive installation that is a rude test for artworks that seek to recall 'natsukashii' memories. 

Komorebi attempted to produce a tension between a very artificial representation and an “as raw as possible” presentation of nature by inducing very raw feelings (heat, sound, wind and scent). In the end, the feedback from those who experienced Komorebi serves to underline the degree of abstraction of both the personal and the collectively influenced memory of nature.

Perceptions of how Komorebi was responded to in the different exhibitions in which it was displayed include:

- Paris (2017), a big city with a huge distance from Nature in the raw. Nature is not really experimented with anymore there and is only a vague recollection for most Parisians. This resulted in those living in the city feeling very relaxed by their encounter with Komorebi. The artwork really evoked memories, partly because Parisians miss contact with Nature, which is also almost now a concept for them, given the culture of “Jardin à la Française” which is very artificial and essentially the only form of nature readily accessible within the city. A concept is something abstract and artificial so the assumed artificiality of Komorebimade sense for those interacting with this installation; understanding that their memory is not built here upon a true confrontation with Nature, sensations can be experienced even within this very artificial context.

- The Wanås Konst Museum is located in the middle of the Swedish countryside surrounded by forest and farms. Here Nature is not a memory but an experience of every moment. It appears that the artificiality of Komorebi here was disturbing as it appeared to be fake, as the feelings induced by encountering the installation can be readily compared to those of actually being in the forest close by. In this case, the Real surpassed the Art. When there is ready access to the Real as form, the (re)presentation through a representation (an artwork) may be perceived to be redundant and therefore pointless.

- Kyoto is a very urban city but it is also close to surrounding forest. The connection with untouched nature does not seem to be so severed for those living within the city in comparison with Paris. Kyoto citizens still have the opportunity to experience Nature at first hand. At the Shoyeido gallery exhibition viewers appear to have enjoyed experiencing Komorebi. There was an ambivalent feeling toward the artificiality of Komorebi, the Real and the Artificial neither competing with nor rejecting each other, reflecting two different types of appreciation relating to the reality of life for those living in Kyoto. 

Image 2  Komorebi  exhibited at Shoyeido Gallery, Kyoto (March 2019)

Image 2 Komorebi exhibited at Shoyeido Gallery, Kyoto (March 2019)

Komorebi is composed of hiking shoelaces, my hiking shoes, pine wood, IR lamp, fan, pine honey, 

immersive headphone, sounds of the forest and smells of forest undergrowth. It is an immersive art installation intended to offer an escape from urban life. Through its composition this artwork seeks to locate each visitor in the middle of a forest to experience some rest and quietness. The carpet was created and made by Jeanne Goutelle Atelier.