November 26, 2014

Mystery and Transparency: Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Installation at the Glass House

It was none other than Robert Rauschenberg who, back in 1968, put Fujiko Nakaya in touch with a manufacturer of industrial high-pressure nozzles capable of producing microscopic water droplets. Nakaya subsequently made a career by employing them for installations that transform the built or natural environment with gossamer waves of fog. “I am not the sculptor. The wind is,” she says. “I sometimes turn the fog on and off, improvising with the wind like jazz.” She has fogged up the titanium exterior of Frank O. Gehry & Associates’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, and she gave Diller + Scofidio advice on the Blur Building for Switzerland’s Expo.02.

Accustomed to such big-name projects, she nevertheless hesitated when asked to create a fog installation to interact with the Glass House, Philip Johnson’s seminal 1949 residence in New Canaan, Connecticut. “I was afraid to even touch it,” she admits. Two years of planning and experiments, in constant conversation with curator Irene Shum Allen, fortunately calmed any jitters. “It was a great honor for me to collaborate with Philip Johnson,” Nakaya says. Fujiko Nakaya: Veil, on view until November 30, has made his 1,700-square-foot house disappear, every hour, into what she calls “a totally white darkness.”  

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