Hitomi Sato and the Attraction of Light
The Japanese emerging artist based in Tokyo has a notable background in architecture and design from her study at the Musashino Art University that impacted her aesthetic. Focused on the harmony of light and humans, Hitomi Sato finds inspiration in the observation of everyday unexpected beauty produced by organic elements crossing one another by sheer chance. The unveiling of rays of light touching asphalt, or the interaction between the natural laws of the weather and high-tech are all examples of the optic play she integrates in her immersive and harmonious artworks.
As she discusses her creation process, and her vision of the future of contemporary art and technology, Hitomi Sato expands on the role of the spectator’s intervention in achieving the release of resonances of one’s inner world and memories.
ArtPremium: What is the role of light in your artworks ?
Hitomi Sato “I treat the light as a medium. When we see the environment we see it through the light, which means that, as time goes by, it looks different, it changes, and you feel the time difference. But at that point, when we see the environment, we do not just see it—our body starts reacting and integrating into the particular environment. When you go back to daily life, there is so much information surrounding you that this body reaction doesn’t happen because the body is getting stiff. So what I am trying to do with the light is to release the tension of that stiff body, and I am trying to find out what is the best way to do it.”
The core essence of her art reveals itself in the tangibility and multi-sensorial experience. The temporal and spatial holistic approach in her Sense of Field (2016) work, a glimmering walkway packed with optic fibre-like radiant light film is telling of the artist’s interactive play with both the viewer and the artwork. “The audience has to feel”, and this sparking of body memory is the realisation of how the observer’s body will change when immersing itself into her optic and spatial illusion. Light, and especially natural light, has a polymorphic effect, and Hitomi Sato stresses on the freedom to choose the meaning we may find in the internal and physical involvement with the art piece, as a unique interaction, each time different.
Your installations immerse the viewer in your works while involving movement and touch. What is the role of the body in engaging ourselves with art?
Hitomi Sato : “Body involvement is very interesting because this happens without my intention in creating any particular object. There is no message in my art; I’d rather say that my art’s function is to nurture the mind and body of the observer, so that they can really define or feel their relationship between the inner and outer. Art is not just for the eyes, it is interesting for us, the creators, to make the audience understand that there are many ways to appreciate it using the five senses of the human body, including smelling, touching… The human body is great because it is not only the sight and the eyes which detect the walls surrounding you, the whole body is reacting to what they see and feel.”
What kind of colours do you usually tend to integrate and associate with light?
Hitomi Sato “My primary interest is in light, colour comes next. First of all, I am focusing on the light, and when I start focusing on the changes or metamorphose, then I think about the colour as a very subtle addition. I take great care when I choose the colours because, for me, it must be transparent, clear, and clean. I will not just use primary colours, but rather a subtle colour, which is closer to the light, to the sunlight.”
As a cascade of colorful panels hung from her installation Heart Washing Room, Hitomi Sato’s meticulous and elegant work engage with the landscape or urban architecture surrounding the artwork, taking into account the rhythm associated with the constant growing of a city or the dichotomic framework between order and disorder. As she explores the relationship between human beings and nature, her art forms a bridge between the outside and the inside, as a means to enhance the sense of feel. In Light of Temple that Sato created in a Buddhist temple out of an exquisite light phenomenon, she intents to recreate the serenity of being in a hut and feeling nature’s special beauty.
Thus, greatly inspired by the Japanese culture, she mentions the sunpou寸法 (measurement) specific to the Japanese strict way of making regulated or customized actions, sharing the time, or judging collectively materials and things. The thorough Japanese control, patterns, keeping a distance is analogous to the fusuma, the Japanese sliding doors made of paper, whose primary function is to shut down the outside world while still being able to feel the slightest change of the environment, light or sound. Feeling this blurry and flexible limit between the inner energies and the external nature is what Hitomi Sato renews in her artworks.
Organic elements often play a role in your installations or objects. How do you establish relations between the natural environment and the universe through the human senses—also regarding the Komorebi effect?
“I am always interested in the human being. As you live, there is an accumulation of customs, for example common sense, which comes from all the information accumulated in one’s life. What I like to try is to release those elements from the human body and mind, and let the audience or observer be free from it. What I personally think about the modern world is that we are losing the archetype—the original, basic or fundamental things are now broken up. We lost the focal point and the point of reliance.
I am trying to evoke the primitive memories of the human being by causing the vibration which can connect us to the primitive or the cosmos. When you see the shimmering water or the komorebi—the light pouring through the tree leaves—we feel that it is such a lovely landscape. Yet, that kind of feeling started from the old archetypical memory, which maybe the primitive people also had. That, I think, is the vibration and the repetition of light and nature.”
ArtPremium: Through the influence of design you also use ordinary or plain materials in your different works. How do you integrate nature and design in your work? Is it a way to reconnect everyday objects with immaterial or spiritual senses?
Hitomi Sato “I think the process of making my art is more important, and especially regarding the materials. I am always trying to see things purely so that the materials shouldn’t be seen as materials. For example, if you take the example of acrylic, we sort of have a presumed concept that this thing is transparent and hard, but I intentionally tried to break that prejudice, just like the primitive people who have never seen acrylic before. So my main function and main concern is to deconstruct the already constructed concept and way of seeing.”
Hitomi Sato first studied architecture, without aiming to become an architect as she was more concerned about the performance space, the philosophical aspect of degeneration,“ how one piece a wall will affect the human being, and his mind and body,” and the Japanese unique way of sensing time and space. She continued her study in a graduate school with a major in science of design, where she studied basic theories of design and the Bauhaus. Her minimalistic design and various works have been exhibited in numerous countries since 2012, from a Wall exhibition in Bologna, Italy, to a project in Melbourne, Australia around the tea ceremony. Her more recent works are collaborations between architecture and art, as well as the study of the ever-present intricate relationship between individuals and nature. While exploring the three fields of art, architecture, and design, Hitomi Sato’s aesthetical aspiration is now to show the audience how to touch the light and to depict the morning sun.