Yoshimoto Archigram: "Holding a tea party in space" - Kira Karacho and artistic use of outer space in cooperation with JAXA

Video cooperation: NASA. Kira Karacho

Kira Karacho、Akihiko Toto
In cooperation with
JAXA, NASA, Yasunori Matogawa, Naoko Yamazaki, Satoshi Furukawa, Yoichiro Kawaguchi, Takuro Osaka, Ayako Ono, So Negishi
From Elon Musk's SpaceX to Takafumi Horie and others, the distance between the earth and other planets such as the moon and Mars has been shrinking, and nowadays, earthlings are becoming more and more prepared to be aliens. Can we have tea parties in space? Can a space shuttle have a tea room? What would happen to the brain waves of tea ceremony masters in space?
Together with the blue space of Akihiko Toto, a Kyoto-based traditional paper sliding door craftsman, and with the cooperation of JAXA, we will examine the artistic use of outer space. Video clips of JAXA's challenges are available for viewing, including "Making Matcha Tea in Space," "Drawing Ink Streams in Space," and "Making Space Musical Instruments." Dreaming of the universe amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Views of outer space in the Reiwa Era will be shared.


“Patterns” all have meanings and stories, holding unseen powers. They include the prayers of the people from hundreds, even thousands of years ago.
There have been various developments in the patterns of paper sliding screens with motifs of nature, haven’t there?
When you look closely at these patterns, you can actually see God in them. For example, water represents purification, having the meaning of cleaning or purifying the air in a place.
Dragons and turtles are talisman. They have the meaning of being protective.
And for example, even the case of sakura, which everyone loves, “Sakura” is the name of God. The “Sa” means the god of the mountains, and the “kura” means to sit down. So, the “Sa” god is sitting down. In the spring, the “Sa” god comes down from the mountain and dwells in the sakura tree, making the flowers bloom. Thus, by the god of the mountain coming down each year, it brings blessings of a good harvest, and this is where the name “sakura” comes from.

The “Sa” god is also in the “sa” of Satsuki (May) in the lunar calendar.
Women that plant rice are sometimes referred to as “Saotome” and the rains that are needed to grow the rice are referred to as “Samidare”. Thus, I think that these terms that start with “sa” show a relationship with the “Sa” god.
Patterns are not merely a design, print or decoration, but each have their own meanings and stories, which is what makes them a “pattern” and “not a design”.
This means that these meanings and stories that are contained within the patterns convey the history of mankind over hundreds, even thousands of years.
For me, I always say that paper sliding screens reflect this power, and are not simply beautiful colors or decorative prints, and so on. There is an invisible power of the eight million gods and this power of god exists in the trees that are carved into so-called “hangi” which have been handed down from generation to generation from the Edo period. Today we have more than 600 screens that have been handed down through wars, fires, earthquakes and various natural and man-made disasters. In this long history, our ancestors have continued to protect this power, at the risk of their own lives. I think that this invisible power still lies within each piece of wood.

Looking back ten generations, we are all the product of over a thousand people, including our mother and father. This means a thousand souls. But it isn’t just about mothers and fathers. We also have brothers and sisters, meaning that ten generations involve thousands of souls. We are in our 11th generation, continuing for about 400 years, but it isn’t even just about family but if you also count the number of souls of craftsmen that have been involved through the generations it is much larger. There have also been many people that have loved paper sliding screens over these 400 years, and this is also very important. These people also have families, and considering this, each piece of wood can be considered to have benefited from hundreds of thousands, or even millions of souls. Beautiful paper sliding screens are born out of a reflection of all this invisible power. It was these prayers and gods reflected in these things that drew me to paper sliding screens, with the thought that through paper sliding screens people would be able to feel calmness and happiness, leading to a more peaceful world.
So the hundreds and thousands of years of prayers that are reflected in these patterns are protecting your room and spaces?
Yes. That’s right. This is a very special feeling. Because isn’t every sliding door born into life today after breathing the air of the Edo period hundreds of years ago? Isn’t it amazing that the wood that we share today includes a certain percentage of air from the Edo period, and now appears in our daily life over time? I feel like the power that has protected people for hundreds of years is now protecting our lives today… That’s why I keep talking about the invisible power that these paper sliding doors have.

In the past, when I said things like “world peace through paper sliding doors”, people would say “That’s such a big thing to say” and “What are you even talking about?”
But just this year, in the midst of the coronavirus, I have worked on this 22 meter piece, which is 24 sliding doors, and this truly forms a single picture. In terms of scale this is the first of its kind in the history of paper sliding doors and is the largest work of paper sliding door art in the world. That’s what I’ve been working on.
I was actually asked “Please create a piece for world peace”. Times have certainly changed.
This piece includes the future of the earth. I had about 20,000 people cooperate in drawing this image of the future of the earth. I used a dyeing technique which fuses pointillism and inscription called “Shifuku printing”, or in other words, while everyone was praying for world peace, I was challenging myself with this “Shifuku printing” dyeing. This involves putting paint on your finger and applying these blue dots to Japanese paper, and in the end it was the desires of 22,690 people that created this piece. Any piece of art created with that many people is a rare thing, isn’t it?
Placing blue paint on paper with your finger sounds like a signature. It’s like fingerprints of peace, isn’t it?
It looks like the ocean, the Milky Way, space, and a dragon. When I stand in front of this piece it looks like a great big dragon. If you take a quick glance, it almost looks like a dragon’s head and hands at the leftmost end of the piece, but this is just a coincidence. Everyone was surprised that the whole piece ended up looking like a dragon. This is part of the mystery of paper sliding screens, where when we believe in invisible power, we can sometimes suddenly make the invisible appear.

Tea ceremonies can be held in space.But it will have to be done the space way, not the earth way.

Dr. Matogawa, you have worked hard in the field of space education.
So, can tea ceremonies be held in space?
Theoretically, yes, tea ceremonies can be held in space.
But since space is a weightless environment, it would have to be completely different to on earth.
Actions when making the tea, such as wiping the utensils etc. can be difficult because the cloth will float away.
The behavior of the tea ceremony master will need to change completely.
And the guests will need to use tape or catch their feet to keep them sitting down in place.
Is it possible to create a tea room on the International Space Station (ISS)?
I guess it depends on how you try to do it.
The International Space Station is made up of structures built by the US and Russia etc., who have cooperated in space development, but the Japanese experiment structure, “Kibo” is the largest and is also said to be the quietest and cleanest, so it is perfect for tea ceremonies. “Kibo” is a place where astronauts from other countries like to come for healing.
It has a module that is octagonal in shape, called a cupola, which has windows and the earth is always visible, so I think this is the perfect place to have a tea ceremony, not while looking at the moon, but while looking at the earth.
What kinds of space manners are there in the weightlessness of space?
In 2011, astronaut Furukawa conducted an experiment of “making matcha in space”.
This was done together with Dr. Yoichiro Kawaguchi, who studies art science.
They actually made matcha, using a special container like a flask or beaker as the tea bowl. The water and matcha grains were nicely mixed, and a proper cup of matcha was brewed. Other Japanese cultural experiments that have been conducted in space include “suminagashi” dyeing. This was conducted with art professor Takuro Osaka.
The suminagashi is a fresh take on this art, because in space it becomes 3-D.
Astronaut Yamazaki has also played the koto in space. She had learned to play the koto for a long time in the Ikuta style, and the President of Fukuyama in Hiroshima Prefecture made her a special small koto which she was able to take into space on the spaceship.
There are also videos that you can watch of astronaut Noguchi playing sho.
Because of the small size of the koto to take it into space, it sounded different from a full-sized koto, but the sound of a Japanese musical instrument echoing in space is deeply moving.
These were wonderful efforts to share Japanese culture from space.
I think that with the entry of private sector efforts such as SpaceX, space exploration in the Reiwa era will enter a new phase, but what do you think about this?
Yes. When astronaut Wakata was making his third space flight as captain of the space station, there happened to be a tense situation breaking out in Ukraine. At the time, the astronaut team included Americans, Russians and Wakata, but the American and Russian astronauts talked enthusiastically about how “the US and Russia are in conflict on the ground, but we can send a message that in space we can all work together”.
As the era of regular people going to space approaches, it may be that the time will come when we can hold international conferences looking at the earth from space.
Various experiments are being conducted by industry too, such as making malt in space and then taking it back to the earth to make sake.
I think that in the future many fields will become more active in using space.
I see. So, the astronauts were holding a peace conference looking at the earth from space? The era of thinking about peace from space may be coming.
It’s time that those of us on the earth changed our collective consciousness.
It definitely looks like the distance between us and the universe will change as we make use of space culture and art.


When you stir matcha in a tea bowl it foams, but I think bubbles are wonderful in zero gravity.
The video of astronaut Furukawa making matcha in space using a capsule containing matcha and a tea whisk was exciting.
“Making matcha in space” is a theme that fuses physical and chemical perspectives, as well as art. This is the perspective of physical and chemical research to observe the behavior of the matcha powder and water to visualize how it mixes together to become matcha when made in the weightlessness of space.
At the time I was interested in the separation and collection and the collision of light as simulations of fluid mechanics. I want to explore the possibilities of tea ceremonies in space in the future. It is a unique attempt to introduce an ancient Japanese culture by holding a tea ceremony at the International Space Station.
Was there a lot of trial and error before the form of the experiment was decided?
I had various thoughts at first, including wanting to use lacquer tea ware and also whether it would be possible to have a robot tea ceremony etc., and there was also a kimono that I had designed, but due to the weight limits of what could be carried on the space ship, this is the form that we settled on. The silk scarf that astronaut Furukawa is wearing was my own CG design. I asked him to wear it to create an elegant atmosphere.
The spherical container that is like a special beaker was created by trial and error for this experiment. Splashing water is very dangerous in space, so the container can be sealed. Also, in the weightlessness of space, when you release your hand the vessel will float away, so we asked astronaut Furukawa to fix it in place for the experiment. And since astronaut Furukawa did it during his spare time there were also a lot of things that were learned from the experiment, such as how the camera position could have been improved etc.
What were your thoughts on the actual experiment? The bubbling was very beautiful and impressive.
The clear refraction of the water at first was wonderful. This was my first experience of the beauty of this delicate collection of water. I’ve never seen such delicate bubbles.
My first impression, frankly, was how even though when you stir matcha in a tea bowl it will foam, the weightlessness was obviously better for bubbles. The beauty of the finely aggregated delicate foam of the matcha was truly wonderful. I think it would be interesting if projection mapping was used for the entire interior of the spaceship to make it like being in bubbles of the universe. It may be a feeling similar to deep sea space.
The preparation of tea ceremony in space is different from on earth, and it seems like it gives a unique view of the tastes of the universe. And when it comes to enjoying something of Japanese culture in space I think that Kemari would also be interesting.
Yes. It’s a four-dimensional game, but I think four-dimensional fluid games would also be interesting.
Personally, I’m always thinking about “the future of tradition”, and I want to take various approaches to this theme in the future.
Would there be an amplification of the senses at the space tea ceremony?
In this tea ceremony experiment, actually drinking the tea was left to the next opportunity. In space there are a lot of unusual things that can be life-threatening, so it can’t be approved without it being proven safe through many experiments. Especially when it comes to eating and drinking, there is a risk of things getting stuck in your throat or getting into your nose, and things that wouldn’t be anything on the earth can be directly linked to risks to your life in space.
Also, regarding the scent, this is limited in the zero gravity of space. And since the scent is particles, these can’t be recollected. It stays there forever and can end up getting mixed. You can’t enjoy it in the same way as on the earth.
So, there is a lot of homework to do in the future on smell and taste etc.
While in space there are aspects where the five senses are amplified, there are also many aspects in which they are abstracted.
When you become weightless, it's not just a simple expansion of the senses, it's a new expansion that doesn't exist on earth. In a sense, I think that this may lead to the birth of a new sixth sense.
That’s why I believe that astronauts are challengers of the unknown, providing us with plenty of dreams and hopes.
I see. It could be that we enjoy the five senses to the fullest on Earth, and then receive the gift of the sixth sense in space.
We enjoy various aromas, tastes and sensations every day as if it were natural, but these are all blessings of being on the earth. I look forward to encountering this sixth and even seventh senses that are waiting in the universe beyond.


Taking advantage of weightlessness, I think that a new culture, space culture will begin.
Astronaut Furukawa was the first space tea master, brewing the first matcha in space.
Could you tell us your impressions of making the matcha?
First of all, I was very surprised and happy. This was an experiment that was conducted from a humanities perspective, but there was also a scientific side to the behavior of the liquid. I made the matcha in the Japanese experiment module “Kibo” on the International Space Station, by pouring water into a closed container containing the matcha powder, and dissolving the powder., but while under gravity the water will normally collect at the bottom of the container, it is completely different in weightlessness. I was very surprised to see that as the water hit the walls of the container it bounced in all directions, up, down, left, right, as if it was dancing. It was a strange sight that can’t be seen on earth. Then I acted as if I was drinking the tea, wearing the colorful scarf designed by an art teacher. On the earth you can put the tea into a bowl to drink it, but that’s not the case in weightlessness. If the liquid scatters in all directions it can get into the precision equipment and short-circuit it. At times only closed containers were allowed from the viewpoint of safety. That’s why I only pretended to drink the matcha. Still, I was very happy to have been able to introduce Japanese culture to space.
I saw the video, and the bubbles were about the size of tapioca, and were very beautiful. Was it difficult to stir them in the tea bowl?
Yes. I couldn’t use gravity, so while shaking is the same as on the ground if you shake it sideways the liquid only moves in that direction, so I had to rotate it counterclockwise 30 times, then clockwise 30 times, then vertically and horizontally with the same number of rotations. It’s a little different from how you do it on the earth.
If drinking tea in space became popular, does this mean that there would need to be a space version of tea ceremony?
I did it the way that it needs to be done in space. It would be very difficult for the traditional tea ceremony to become popular in space. First of all, it is very difficult to sit upright in space. Sitting upright on the ground actually requires a lot of gravity. You also use the weight of your body when you bend your knees and fold your legs. When you try to sit in zero gravity, you need to keep using your leg muscles to bend your legs, and you can’t stay in that position for long. If you wanted to stay in that position in space, you would have to do your best to use your muscles to get into a sitting position and then fix yourself in place with rubber bands above and below the knees and at the thighs and shins. On the earth you would sit upright on a cushion on a tatami mat, but you can’t do that in space. On the ground the weight of your body presses into the cushion and the tatami mat, but in weightlessness you would need to stick the cushion and tatami mat to yourself using Velcro. It’s a completely different method to on the ground, but there are also good things, like your legs not getting numb because they don’t have any weight on them. With this new way of doing it, I think we would end up creating a new space culture.
In space, there is no feeling of where the floor or the ceiling is. The floor is simply where your feet are pointed. So I think you could come up with a tea ceremony that uses three dimensional space. I think a new culture could be born, called space culture, which makes use of weightlessness.
If tea ceremonies were held in space, would this change communication between astronauts?
Yes, I think so. By holding a unique tea ceremony that utilizes the phenomenon of weightlessness that can’t be experienced on the earth and making the most of Japanese culture I think that we can advance the communication and mutual understanding of the multinational astronauts.
Please tell us about your feelings about Japanese culture as you felt far away from the earth.
I lived in the United States for 9 years when I was training to be an astronaut. At that time, I had strong feelings for Japanese culture, feeling that “Japan was my home”, and I shared Japanese culture and the activities of JAXA in the United States. This was how I felt when I was away from Japan in the United States, but there was a change when I found myself away from the earth on the International Space Station.
At first, when I was flying over Japan I thought “hey, that’s Japan. It’s beautiful”. But as time went by, I began to feel like “my home is the earth”, because there were so many beautiful places in many parts of the world, and the whole earth is beautiful and wonderful. There was a really wonderful change in my feelings. The earth is very special, and I came to feel great love for the miracle that is the earth.
If more people go to space, it seems like their consciousness of being earthlings would change.
I think that looking at the earth from space would dramatically change our awareness of the environment.


The guests can sit vertically on the wall when holding a Space Tea Ceremony.
Your legs won't go numb even when the Space Tea Ceremony goes on for a long time (laughs).
I heard you are a koto player of the Ikuta style, and you also played the koto in outer space.
It was impossible to bring a koto into space as it was, so I had a small koto specially made, about 30 centimeters long, and it was brought into the spacecraft. The tone and sound of that koto are different from those of the conventional koto because of its small size and I am not very good at playing it, but it was very moving to hear the sound of a Japanese musical instrument in outer space.
Astronaut Noguchi played the sho (reed instrument) and together we performed "Sakura Sakura" together.
I saw a video of you floating in zero-gravity space in a kimono-like garment on the news at the time. You looked wonderful like an angel.
That garment was like a hanten, and I wore it over my top. It is not possible to put on a kimono in space, but I think you can put out a kimono-like vibe by wearing something over your normal clothes. If you are invited to a tea ceremony, I think you can make your attire look like traditional Japanese attire in this manner.
It is also possible to wear tabi in space.
You can float into the entrance of the tea room, like that.
Can you hold a tea ceremony in space?
Yes. In zero-gravity space, you can't do something like the customary shuffle walking style because there is no defined floor and your body is floating. But on the other hand, you can sit wherever you want, so you can sit vertically against the wall, for example.
There are various places in the spacecraft where you can hook your feet and secure them in place.
Hooking and securing your feet is possible, but it's difficult to keep your knees folded all the way down like in the seiza sitting position, so you can just stand or try out different ways of sitting.
The vertically aligned tea ceremony sitting position is also unique to space, which I think is wonderful.
I like the vertical sitting position of outer space tea parties. It is possible to create a gorgeous Japanese style attire if you are invited to a tea ceremony in outer space. Can you also put on makeup?
Yes. You can put on makeup in space. Most cosmetics that do not contain alcohol and propylene glycol can be used. You can take care of your skin in much the same way as you would on Earth, so you can keep up your appearance in space as well.
If you held a tea ceremony in space, would your legs not go numb if you sat on your feet for a long time in the seiza position?
No, they wouldn’t go numb. Sitting still in a the seiza position is difficult in itself because of the lack of gravity, and in space we don't do the act of sitting down in the first place, but even if we did sit down for a long time, our legs wouldn't go numb. In space, you don't get back pain or shoulder pain either (laughs).
So outer space might be a good place for a tea ceremony (laughs).
How do you drink liquids in space?
Astronauts can drink liquids through a straw. But straws eliminate the aroma and can take away from the taste in some areas, so in 2008, U.S. astronaut Donald Pettit made a coffee cup out of a plastic sheet. Then, in 2015, a coffee cup, modified by Portland State University and produced by a 3D printer, was brought to the International Space Station (ISS). The material is not specified, but it is assumed to be a common resin. It's sealed, and you have to flip the lid up a little bit to drink it.
I think it would be difficult to bring the same kind of teacups and ceramics into space as we have on earth, but if we can use this kind of plastic cup, we may be able to do something similar to drinking koicha tea in the future.
In addition, although high-grade Japanese fresh confections have not yet become a space food, yokan (sweet bean jelly) has already become a space food and is very popular.
The theme of this year's event is the tea ceremony. In the future we will be able to create a completely new choreography and staging of a familiar performance in outer space such as a Noh performance. The staging takes advantage of the zero gravity environment. It will give birth to an outer space version that will completely change the interpretation of the concept of the performance.
I agree. I think culture and art will continue to evolve in a new way through outer space. Thus far, Japan has been the pioneer in attempting to communicate its own unique culture from outer space.
I believe that the use of outer space will continue to advance in the humanities and arts. I think it's very interesting to develop Japanese culture that makes use of a zero gravity environment.
So Japan is the pioneer. That's exciting. By the way, what would happen to the brain waves of a tea ceremony master in outer space? And what kind of dreams do you have in outer space?
We haven't experimented with brain waves, but I have heard from other astronauts that there were changes in their brain cells. When you are freed from gravity in a zero gravity environment, you are floating in a space where there is no top, bottom, right or left, like swimming in water. This changes your awareness. It's a reassuring and nostalgic feeling.
As for dreams, I think it varies from person to person, but I do have dreams in outer space.
I don't usually remember my dreams, but the night before I returned to earth, I dreamt that my grandmother, who had passed away, was having a good time and laughing at my childhood home.
It's strange to encounter the feeling of being in outer space, like swimming in the ancient seas. As for the dream, it was a very earth-like dream (laughs) which was interesting. You may be in space, but you're still an earthling. Maybe being in space, on the contrary, will give rise to a new "earthling awareness".


We have stepped out of the cradle called Earth into outer space, acquiring an extraterrestrial point of view, so to speak, from life on Earth to life in space.
So, in outer space, sumie ink drawings are also in 3D. It was a pleasant surprise to watch the experiment.
When JAXA proposed the themes of "creating new values from space" and "things that can only be seen in a zero-gravity environment," I thought of water.
Water is the "root of all things," as the Greek philosopher Thales put it, and it symbolizes the Earth, nurturing and evolving life on the planet. I wanted to make water float in space and make a water ball to provide a variety of stimuli and to bring up changes in pattern and color. When using water as a medium of expression, I thought of the Japanese method called Suminagashi. This is similar to marbling method overseas.
The water ball sumie ink drawing looks like a "mini earth" or atmospheric movement. In the video, it looks like the water ball is inflated like making bubbles.
To make the water ball, I made a circle with wire and carefully attached water droplets to it with an eyedropper.
The process of coloring the surface of the water ball is very beautiful. Does this mean you're applying color to the surface of the water ball? Or are you injecting color inside the water ball?
Using an eyedropper, I apply the color to the surface of the water ball. Some of the colors gain too much momentum and find their way into the water ball, but the basic technique is the Suminagashi marbling method of applying color to the surface.
What is the difference between the 2008 experiment and the 2011 experiment?
In 2008, I used sumi ink and colored ink for my painting materials. In 2011, the theme of the exhibition was "light and life" and I used crushed shed skin of sea fireflies and fluorescent paint. The fluorescent paint was handmade, making it gentle and original. Just like the Suminagashi marbling technique on Earth, in 2008 we were able to apply the marbling pattern by bringing it into contact with Japanese washi paper.
In outer space far away from the Earth and free from the restraints of gravity, I expect to encounter new perceptions and values as we are not limited to Earth standards, such as a 2-D axis.
In my experiments with Suminagashi marbling water ball painting, I was very conscious of the interface between the liquids. I think this was manifested by differences in density and viscosity as the liquid is freed from gravity. After the experiment, when I walked along the river, the water on the surface of the river seemed to be hugging the Earth due to gravity, and the waves seemed to be formed at the interface due to the physical changes of air and water.
What elements and characteristics of Japanese culture do you think will be emphasized as attractive when outer space is used as a stage? Please tell us your thoughts on sharing Japanese culture in outer space.
I don't think there is any other country that suffers more from natural disasters than Japan when including earthquakes and typhoons. Therefore, we have the phrase Kantenboki (meaning predicting the weather naturally) which involves observing nature and identifying changes as soon as possible. But at the same time, we have also developed a sensitivity to adore the changes of the seasons throughout the year. It seems to me that our keen senses of observation and delicate sensitivity have resulted in a unique Japanese sense of balance. When we face this new dimension in outer space, I believe we have the sensitivity to raise questions and propose answers to the issues facing humanity on how people all over the world should perceive and live in outer space.
What are your opinions on the significance and message of developing art in space?
The fact that we have stepped out into outer space, having been nurtured in the cradle called Earth, seems to indicate that we are evolving from life on Earth to life in space. Now that we've gained an extraterrestrial perspective, we can look at the world relative to what it used to be. There is no doubt that this new system will give rise to new values in philosophy and art.
I feel that a shift in consciousness and awakening from life on Earth to life in outer space could be the catalyst for solving some of the major challenges humanity has been facing, such as the environment, war, hunger, and ethnic problems, and I don't even think it could be any other way.
A comprehensive scientific art with a perspective on life, the environment and outer space will be required in the future.
We have stepped out of the cradle of the Earth and acquired an extraterrestrial perspective.
When I look at the beauty of the water ball, I am reminded of the earth and the mystery of life.

Make Space Instruments

A refreshing sound like a wind chime, even in outer space. This instrument is like a communication tool, like a gently moving interior article.
The sound of space instruments in the zero gravity reminded me of Gagaku(Japanese court music) with its peaceful and refreshing sound.
These were designed with the sound of weightlessness in mind. Space may have an image of silence, but that's just the vacuum world outside the spacecraft, and there is surprisingly quite a bit of annoying mechanical noise when you're inside the International Space Station.
The Japanese experiment building is the quietest, but in other countries, the noise level can be as high as 70 decibels. Those with sensitive ears will even want earplugs.
Therefore, I thought about the stress reduction through sound, or rather, the healing effects of sound.
The space instruments are also very beautiful in form. It looks like it could be used in a miko ceremonial dance or as a Buddhist altar fitting. If you look closely, there are actually many different materials used.
Thank you. These space instruments were also subtitled "Cosmic Seeds" and the design concept was based on the image of a seed. I hope that this work will be the seed for the creation of a new instrument for zero gravity. The materials used are aluminum, brass, stainless steel, and Aomori cypress.
I wanted to create an opportunity for astronauts to come into contact with wood in space, as they are surrounded by electrical devices. Plus, there's a fragrant component called Hinokitiol. Shaking the instrument produces a slight aroma. I was also conscious of the healing power of natural scents.
The beauty of Earth can be seen from outer space but I wanted people to experience the nature of the Earth by touching the wood. The use of wood and an organic design, like plants, will help people imagine the natural landscape of the earth.
I see. Even in space, you are making use of the surrounding landscape.
I liked Alexander Calder's "mobiles", and I was also interested in mobiles in zero gravity, so I wanted to make a mobile-like instrument.
We are also conscious of improving the sound environment in the spacecraft and are inspired by Western space art. Europe is particularly active in zero-gravity art. This instrument was inspired by a brass ring that had fallen off while I was in France and rolled around with a beautiful sound.
Does the sound change between playing on Earth and playing in the zero gravity environment of space?
It changes a lot. Outer space produces more beautiful tone and sound. On Earth, it's more of a clanging sound.
By checking the contents and the floating of the vibrating plate and operating it delicately, the sound of the metals colliding with each other is cleaner and the reverberation is sustained compared to the sound made on Earth.
Fractal bells become crushed due to gravity, but in a zero gravity environment, they change into a beautiful, balanced form like a lively plant, and we could observe the complex movements that are only possible under zero gravity.
Basically, the sound reverberates for a long time. That's why we also created a special silencer for space instruments that stops the sound together with the instruments.
It sounds like you could feel the wind even in outer space.
It's like a wind chime that reacts to the air circulating in response to human movement. I aimed to make it not only a musical instrument, but also a communication tool.
I see. The sound is gentle and pleasant. By the way, what kind of music do you think will be a hit in outer space?
Let me think. I think healing music, something like environmental music would be popular. Maybe some kind of dance music would be good, but I think it's a bit of a challenge to dance in a zero gravity environment (laughs). Sometimes the law of inertia kicks in, and you keep spinning round and round so you need someone to stop you. Your sense of your center of gravity may change making you space sick if you move too much.
It's an amazing space instrument, but unfortunately it is disposed of after the experiment erasing its existence. They are disposed of when astronauts return to Earth. So there is a garbage problem even in outer space.
Yes, that's right. There is now only the backup (a replica in case of an accident) of this instrument, which I've heard was enjoyed by the performers as well as the other astronauts.
It was incinerated by way of plunging it into the atmosphere with other discarded materials. Kind of like a shooting star!
It's one of the solutions to the garbage problem in space. It's kind of romantic in that way too, don't you think?
The zero-gravity environment itself becomes a new material, and new sounds and new music are born.
Just as the Space Tea Ceremony generates new communication in space, space instruments are likely to contribute to the development of new relationships.