Japanese artist Mika Aoki brings to light a world of microscopic organisms, solidified and illuminated in her exceptional blown glass sculptures. Drawing inspiration from spores, mold, fungi, viruses, and sex cells, she explores the concepts of life and death through the lens of the lab. “My inspirations come from observations and conversations with scientists,” Aoki says of her work. Erupting from syringes or sprouting up atop dismantled cars, her "singing glass" sculptures remind us that we share our planet with forms that are both invisible and remarkable.
Taking a cue from nature, glass artist Mika Aoki transforms tiny grains of sand into flowing, organic forms reminiscent of spores, sperm, and viruses. For her pieces, Aoki frequently travels to labs for inspiration, using the equipment and research as visual references. In her choice to use glass for her sculptures, Aoki explains,
In some cases, we cannot see if window glass is there or not. Unless light shines on it, we can’t confirm the existence of it because it is transparent. But once the light shines on it, glass truly emanates a special presence. Although it is solid and hard, it is quite easy to be broken. It connotes conflicting qualities: solidity and fragility. The interaction of light with this material reveals certain aspects of substance. We humans, with our limited imaginations and powers of recognition, call these aspects ‘form’ and ‘color.’ For the journey I’m taking, searching for ‘terms’ which express life itself, the interaction between life and the world around it, the network of life, and ‘the forms that take the shape of those terms,’ I needed material of a transparent nature and at the same time, completely meaningless.’
Also able to be easily and exactly manipulated, Aoki can use glass to craft her shining sculptures with a great deal of precision. Witnessing the carpets of sinuous, mushroom-like sprout from decaying cars in the piece entitled Her Songs Are Floating, it is easy to draw connections between our fleeting physical existence and our role in the grand cycle of life and death. Trapped in containers, her imaginary life forms in Fluctuation of Life seem suspended for a brief moment in time like preserved specimens. Eerie and beautiful, Aoki’s installations inspire the same curiosity and wonder that compels scientists to seek to explain and explore.
Aoki is currently living in London and studying at the Royal College of Art.