DAY1 11:00~12:30

Key Note

【S-1】 Learning from Nature

With the recent societal focus on wind, sun, and other natural energy sources in the future lighting design, we welcomed Susumu Shingu, a sculptor based in the nature-rich city of Sanda, Hyogo Prefecture, who has been creating sculptures that move by the power of wind, water, and gravity over the past four decades, based on his observation and experience of nature.
Sanda City, where Shingu has his studio, is now a satellite town of Osaka and Kobe, but it used to be an area with pastoral sentiment filled with rice paddies and fields where it would be truly pitch-dark at night. He was fascinated by the lights emitted by fireflies or animals’ eyes peeking from the forest, making him realize that the subtle glow of the light had great significance. This “experience of darkness” is what Shingu describes as a key inspiration in his endeavors.

He has been engaged in an ongoing effort to promote the attractions of Sanda City with his original character Sandalino, and the wind-powered, 3.5-meter monument that was completed in September of 2023 and is keen to devote the rest of his life to making Sandalino internationally renowned. Amid the backdrop of our shifting interest in what we leave behind for future generations, a collaborative exhibition with Renzo Piano titled Parallel Lives was held at the Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka in 2023. Ever since the two men, both born in 1937, first met, they have been pursuing the creation of public spaces all over the world—which Shingu speculates may be one of the reasons why he was invited to this seminar.

“My creative endeavor has always been fascinated by water and air,” says Shingu, reflecting on his career of creating artworks with themes of wind and water in various locations around the world. His first project with Renzo Piano, whom he has known for 35 years, Boundless Sky, located in the departure lobby of the Kansai International Airport Passenger Terminal Building, is the visualization of an airflow. He then introduced his creative works in Sanda City, where he currently resides, as well as in Italy, Greece, Uruguay, and other places.

Shingu describes his creative activities as “serious study of the earth but at the same time amusing activity.” In 2000, he planned Wind Caravan to visit six regions with the most unique natural environments on the planet led by his concern for the earth. “I thought that the local people in these parts of the world may be more closely connected to nature than we are in our modern, civilized lives, therefore, there must be a lot to learn from them about the way of life in the future concerning the Earth.” Starting from Sanda City, he traveled to New Zealand, Finland, Morocco, Mongolia, Brazil, and many other regions, with 21 pieces of collapsible sculptures in a 6-meter-long container. Shingu says, “The cultural exchange I had with the local people on that journey gave me the energy to learn many things about the Earth and continue my work.”

He also mentioned Genki-nobori, a workshop with children that is currently underway, which is to directly communicate to people through the hand-painted messages and drawings of encouragement by children on the white cloths in the shape of carp streamers as the wind blows and flutters through them. It is the expression of the absence of national borders and racial barriers for the winds, inspired by the winds that freely blow across the earth. “The circle of children that leads to world peace is what I feel is art,” he says.

The seminar concluded with the story of his strange encounter with the ghost of Leonardo da Vinci at the exhibition commemorating the 500th anniversary of his death held at the Château de Chambord in France in 2019, which he humorously described during the Q&A session.