By Arwen O’Reilly Griffith
Photos by Yoshisato Komaki
Mika Aoki’s glass-blown sculptures seem otherworldly, until you look more closely. Then you realize how very tied to this world they are: inspired by mold spores, viruses, plants, life, and death, the clear glass simultaneously makes abstract concepts concrete and vanishes before our very eyes. Born in Hokkaido, Japan, Aoki now lives in London, where she is learning English and studying at the Royal College of Art. (Don’t mistake her for a novice; she’s shown her work for years in Japan after studying art and glass blowing in Tokyo.)
Is she an artist or a scientist? Her resumé proves her chops as an artist, but she says, “My inspirations come from observations and conversations with scientists.” While creating new pieces, Aoki often visits labs to spark ideas, and dreams of collaborating with scientists on her next body of work. Her interest in things that can’t always be seen with the naked eye lends itself perfectly to glass. “Unless light shines on it, we cannot confirm [its] existence,” she writes. “Thus I encountered one material which can exist as the membrane of something invisible.”
In an installation piece called Her Songs Are Floating, an old car sits in darkness. Glass arches out of the car and within it, looking like transparent roots shooting into the interior. “I try to make works that could make contact with physical and mental senses,” Aoki says, and one can’t help but think of the battle between humans and the natural world, life and its end. Other works show sinuous glass sculptures suspended in vitrines, exploding from test tubes, and growing out of bottles. Sperm searches for ovum, virus for host, spore for sustenance. Surely the glass is alive? Or at least singing? “I’m interested in the phenomenon of life,” she says simply.
Above is an excerpt from the pages of MAKE Volume 32: Design for Makers
Forget duct tape and baling wire — now makers can design and manufacture things as beautiful as Apple and as slick as Dyson. We’ll show you how to conceive and visualize great-looking projects with our speed course in industrial design.