floating garden: a salt sculpture by motoi yamamoto
floating garden: a salt sculpture by motoi yamamoto floating garden: a salt sculpture by motoi yamamoto
sep 18, 2012

floating garden: a salt sculpture by motoi yamamoto

floating garden: a salt sculpture by motoi yamamoto (above) motoi yamamoto building ‘floating garden’, 2012 image by jon rou





motoi yamamoto: return to the sea or ‘floating garden’ laband art gallery, loyola marymount university on now until december 8th, 2012



designboom has visited the laband art gallery of loyola marymount university in los angeles, california to experience ‘floating garden’ the most recent salt-formed installation by japanese artist motoi yamamoto. we were also able to catch up with the artist to learn more about his process and concepts exercised when working with his preferred granular medium.



designboom: please tell me a bit more about your most recent salt project. how long do you plan to focus on building this piece?motoi yamamoto: I work ten hours on a day. the making are 11 days.

motoi yamamoto building the installation on the floor of laband gallery image by jon rou



db: how do you choose your themes or subjects?

my: concept the mainspring of my work is derived from the death of my sister from brain cancer at the age of 24 in the winter of 1994. since then, I have had the dilemma, in grief and surprise, of thinking about what I had and lost. I started making art works that reflected such feelings and continue  it as if I were writing a diary.  many of my works take the form of labyrinths with complicated patterns, ruined and abandoned staircases or too narrow  life-size tunnels, and all these works are made with salt.  a common perception towards them is ‘nearly reachable, yet not quite’ or ‘nearly conceivable,  yet not quite’. memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by. however, what I sought for was the way in which I could touch a precious moment  in my memories which cannot be attainable through pictures or writings. reasons for using salt salt seems to possess a close relation with human life beyond time and space. moreover, especially in japan, it is indispensable in the death culture. after my sister’s death, what I began to do in order to accept this reality was examine how death was dealt with in the present social  realm. I posed several related themes for myself such as brain death or terminal medical care and picked related materials accordingly. I then came to choose salt as a material for my work. this was when I started to focus on death customs in japan. in the beginning, I was interested in the fact that salt is used in funerals or in its subtle transparency. but gradually I came to a point where the salt in my work might have been a part of some creature and supported their lives. now I believe that salt enfolds the memory of lives. I have thus had a special feeling since I started using it as a material.

a visualization of the installation in progress image by justin lai



db: what is your daily routine?my: I take the bath for fatigue recovery in the morning for 30 minutes at night. it is care of a waist and the knee. the posture of the making risks a burden for health. and I put taping to a waist and a back. the stretch is important, too. I spend much time on the care of the body. it seems to be totally  an athlete. therefore I can concentrate on it during making of ten hours.



db: has there been an evolution in your work? were there any particularly pivotal moments in the progression of your sculptural style?my: the show in LA is one of the traveling solo exhibitions this time. therefore, the theme does not change. however, the work little change.

the build in progress image by carolyn peter



db: which artistic techniques do you prefer?my: of course it is installation of the salt. (I just said that by way of a joke.) but, the world did not have the art that I wanted to watch. therefore I made the world that i wanted to look at.



db: is there any artist from the past or present whose work you have been particularly impressed with?my: mark rothko, christian boltanski

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    art news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    489,486 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample