ISC/GFS Resident Shohei Katayama | Experiments, Cities, a Beach, and a Plasma Physics Lab

It’s been roughly two weeks since the residency started. My time in the studio has been, to say the least, experimental — not much has been produced. However, it’s been productive in terms of exploring materials, developing prototypes, and appreciating Tyler’s skill and process. As for the time outside of the studio, it’s been exhilarating and adventurous. In the last week I took the NJ transit to New York for delicious ramen and to play with a human powered outdoor kinetic sculpture, drove twice to Philadelphia to attend several art openings, a day trip to Asbury Park to lounge by the beach and feel the sand between my toes, and a visit to Princeton’s Plasma Physics Lab — only to be reminded of how little I know about the Universe. Grounds For Sculpture’s proximity to these locations is ideal for fostering and replenishing creative juice, something that was much needed for my soul.

Rather than expanding on some philosophical dialogue about my experiences at these various destinations, it may be most productive for myself to explain the few experiments I have started on. As an artist whose interests lie in the fields of physics, sustainability, and climate change, I decided to work on a thermochromic steel sculpture that acts as a “planetary mood-ring” (aka a glorified thermometer), that shifts colors depending on the ambient heat or light. Unlike my previous liquid crystal sculpture, I am planning to use automobile quality pigments. 

Work in progress #1, steel form.

Inspired by Seward Johnson’s sculptures that occasionally startles me late at night, my second project involves creating a figurative shape that effuses a human-like presence without making an explicit humanoid form. I used Tyler as a model, which I sketched up in a CAD program and 3D printed on my Ender-3. Alternatively, I have plans to replace the spheres with textures of plants I 3D scanned around the park, or topographical data of New Jersey I obtained from the University of California San Diego’s OpenTopography. I want to create work that focuses or blurs the relationship between the landscape and the body.

Sketches made with Rhino
Left and Center: 3D scanned plants Right: 3D printed abstract Tyler

While there are other ongoing projects, currently I am most excited to start on a large scale wind chime. Yesterday, I volunteered to trim down the bamboo forest around Erotica Tropicalis with Janice. I am planning to use the discarded bamboo to construct a sculpture that can be animated by the natural currents of the park. 

It’s been hot and humid lately — maybe the sound of a wind chime can help us feel relaxed and cool. 

Bamboo forest by Seward Johnson’s Erotica Tropicalis
Volunteers piling up the bamboo
A pile of bamboo in the studio!

Some extra photos if interested:

Alamo, Tony Rosenthal (NYC)

Here’s a video of me moving it.

Shannon Greco at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab
Alex Lukas’ work (MFA cohort), at Fjord Gallery in Philadelphia
My decapitated head at Asbury Park

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