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Colour Hunting - interactive. / 14 September 2013

Color-hunting, 21_21 Design Sight. Roppongi, 21 June - 6 October 2013

'Exhibition director Dai Fujiwara invented "color-hunting," a design method inspired by his personal research of design. The act of capturing actual colors in the natural and urban environment and reproducing them on a piece of paper by mixing watercolors on the spot is literally "hunt" for color. Design rooted in color-hunting embraces the power to convey and spread meanings and stories of color to the people involved in the product making process and its users while also enriching our color environment.'

Escaping from designed colours, colour wheels and palettes, Dai Fujiwara is lucky enough to have the whole world as his hunting ground. In Africa he sought and recorded the colours of lions. He also recorded the colour of the earth they roamed and had Spanish boots created in lion colours and textures, to roam a platform with a red African earth coloured surface.
In Japan after the Great Eastern (earthquake) Disaster, he recorded the colours of sky, contemplating the fragility of Japan and indeed the world. The colours are meticulously recorded on small strips of paper. One wall of the gallery is dedicated to a long line of shades of sky.

Colour Hunting was the first interactive exhibition I've encountered here in Tokyo. After the introductory video (a feature of all the exhibitions I've seen in this Tadao Ando designed Art Space) showing the artist at work recording colours in the snow, there is a long strip of hanging white paper, ca 75 cms wide, and an elegantly designed counter with 'square wells' for small squares of sticky-backed coloured paper. The visitor is invited to choose one colour, to be symbolic of their personal future, and place it snugly beside the previous visitor's square. 
There are coloured cards to hold up in four different lights, an image of which, neatly divided into four separate oblongs, is reflected back at you from an iPad. The iPads, fixed to the wall at various heights, accommodate tall, small and wheelborne people.

There is a circular counter strewn with tiny multi-coloured thermometers. Visitors are invited to choose a colour, put a finger on it until their temperature registers and mark the line and the date in coloured pencil on the countertop. All low enough for me to engage with.
Another line of iPads shows a student project to give personal names to trees of different textures and colours. The aim being to illustrate the fact that, like people, trees become more interesting and important to us when we have their given name and some individually identifying facts.

There is a lot to see in this complex space, almost all of it accessible, interactive and well documented.

There is also an area especially for children where colourful images may be created on tablets automatically uploading to a website. An individual code number gives each artist access.

This is a fun and inspirational exhibition, with each detail meticulously crafted; each presentation elegant and quirky. The overall effect may not be as stunningly presented/curated as the other exhibitions I have seen here, but that is a very small quibble. 
At the start I did wonder if 'color-collecting' might be a more suggestive term than 'color-hunting' (maybe because of the lions, my Japanese companions had made an inappropriate link to violence via the term Big Game Hunting), but rolling around the uniquely designed space that is 21_21, I was put in mind of the great Victorian plant hunters of the past and the title suddenly seemed just right.


Researching indigo
timeless, without borders
indigo, reaches shades
degrees of depth
variety of strength 
taken up by fine threads
measured bands of
muslin cloth to catch
the breeze. To chime
crystal balls like bell
pulls and wave, prayer flags, 
to play indigo games
with the wind.