One of the things that I love about the world of contemporary art is the complete lack of boundaries or limitations that it places on artists. Museums and galleries that feature works of contemporary art can include everything from paintings to large-scale installations and collages to wildly unpredictable performance art. While yes, a lot of it is probably a little silly, it can often produce some wonderful experiences that encourage the viewer to look at the world around them differently. That is really all that art can be expected to do, and thankfully we live in a time when traditional limitations and structural constraints have been made virtually irrelevant.
When most people hear the words “contemporary art” they often think of the intentionally confrontational and outrageous works that elicit protests and make the news. They are often made to be intentionally shocking and use mediums or materials that push the boundaries of good taste and test the limits of local obscenity laws. But while I think artwork of that nature has a place in the art world, as it often starts much needed discussions in communities, it is really only a small fraction of what contemporary art has to offer. Many artists have taken to using modern technology to produce things that could never be produced in any other way, and by doing so create viewer experiences that can be just as memorable without the controversy.
Haruka Misawa, a Japanese artist, designer and the founder of Misawa Design Institute, has used modern 3D printing technology to craft some truly stunning minimalist aquariums and water features. Her series of installations is called Waterscape, and she has mixed real water plants and fish to create a beautiful and calming collection of aquariums that is understated and yet completely memorable. It is said that just looking at an aquarium can help reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure, and will produce a calming effect. Just looking at some of the pictures of Misawa’s Waterscape designs will make you feel like the stresses that you deal with on a daily basis are just melting away.
When she was designing her Waterscapes, Misawa created a series of 3D printed objects that were inspired by the shapes and objects that would be found in nature. Things like coral, water plants and stone formations inspired the minimalist, sculptural versions that she used in each aquarium. The objects were 3D printed and placed inside of simple, stark square-shaped tanks that provided the living fish with unique and varied structures to swim around and inside of.
Misawa created several structures that would trap air inside of them, so plants could be growing underwater among the fish and other aqua life.
Misawa recently held an exhibition of her Waterscapes at an art gallery in Taiwan, where the square glass cubes were integrated seamlessly with plain white bars.
The effect of each little pocket of life trapped inside of a glass cube is both striking and beautiful. She has also taken a series of incredible photographs of her aquariums and published them in a lavish, full-color art book that is available in Japan. The book includes pictures of all of her aquariums from her first collection of Waterscapes, including drawings and technical designs of each of them.
While there is no indication that Misawa will be selling or producing replicas of her designs, she has created a soothing video of them so we can see how the fish interact with the sculptural elements and get as close as possible to experiencing the Waterscape without seeing it in person. Discuss further in the 3D Printed Aquarium forum over at 3DPB.com.