Bringing Nature to the City: Urban Fog Art by Fujiko Nakaya

Have you enjoyed the magic of a bank of fog, letting it slip around you as surroundings vanish and reappear? Many who experience fog simply find it inconvenient and dangerous. Like many natural phenomena, it is both beautiful and perilous, especially for travelers.

Fog Forest image © UNIT7 with CCLicense

Foggy Forest, Tokyo, 1992
image © UNIT7 with CCLicense

Environmental installation artist Fujiko Nakaya makes fogscapes, designing and installing complex computerized machinery to create low lying clouds of water vapor. No chemicals are used in the process of creating her scaled down versions of natural fog, leaving the water potable. Nakaya’s works are often installed in downtown areas and truly bring the playful beauty of nature into the urban landscape, where the fog interacts with weather conditions to put on a striking show. A marriage of science and art, Nakaya’s designs have graced cities all over the world, including Tokyo, Osaka, San Francisco, Canberra, Paris, Linz, Toronto and Bilbao. She has also provided fog design for theatrical and musical productions, including dance performances. The video below was released in conjunction with an installation in Taipei, Taiwan, entitled Post Urban Fogscape. 

What a gentle way to bring the awareness of nature to this city, where once rice farmers were at the mercy of the elements. Here are two more fogscapes by Nakaya, which reveal her delightful imagination. Like a true theater artist, she does not flaunt the technology behind her construction, creating a wonderful sense of mystery. Nature itself is theater.

Gisèle Vienne, This is How You Will Disappear image © svennevenn with CCLicense

Gisèle Vienne, This is How You Will Disappear
Kaaitheater, Brussels, Belgium
image © svennevenn with CCLicense

F.O.G. at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain image © Phillip Maiwald with CCLicense

F.O.G. at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
image © Phillip Maiwald with CCLicense

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Cloud Parking on a rooftop in Linz, Austria. Lovely article from the Daily Mail.

Cloud Forest at Yamaguchi Center for Art and Media, Yamaguchi, Japan.

Fog Bridge, Exploratorium, San Francisco.

Gisèle Vienne, This is How You Will Disappear, avant-garde theatrical trailer.

Thoughts on A Foggy Day in Jersey City

© David Iliff with CCLicense

© David Iliff with CCLicense

This article from stirs up an interesting issue. A work of art called Release is causing some alarm in Jersey City. Created by Roger Sayre and Charlotte Becket, professors at Pace University, this art installation, described as an “urban catastrophe image”, consists of a shipping container which belches forth water vapor every day at noon and at 8pm. This fog can take up to forty-five minutes to disperse.

The last time Release was up and running, a passer-by called 911 to report a fire, resulting in the arrival of six fire trucks, legally required to respond to what they knew was a wild goose chase. The Fire Department shut down the installation, but Release is getting a second chance after the artists have placed signage at the site to warn people that there is no fire, only art.

There is some beauty in the dancing water vapor and the conversations and awareness sparked are certainly lively. Release represents an honest attempt to explore and deal with images that frighten us. Do you think this kind of art is worthwhile or is it a needless and insensitive disruption that threatens public safety and the city budget?

Fooling the Eye: Art Installations by Felice Varini

© erin williamson with CCLicense

Anamorphic art makes a distorted projection of an image that can be viewed as a coherent image only from a particular vantage point. Artist Felice Varini is famous for his anamorphic art installations, which create real world effects that look much like digital ones. Seen from the proper angle, the world seems overlaid with geometric patterns. Seen from another, the illusion is revealed: fragments of the image are painted directly on walls and other surfaces in the space. Varini has painted outdoors and indoors, in beautiful historic churches and modern office buildings, creating magic that fools and amuses the eye.

Born in 1952 in Locarno, Switzerland, Varini lives in Paris. Scroll down for some more of his amazing installations.

Images #1,2, 7 & 8 © Erin Williamson with CCLicense.

Image #3 © groume with CCLicense.

Image #4 © Jason Whittaker with CCLicense.

Image #5 © Matt Rosser with CCLicense.

Image #6 © Maxime Felder with CCLicense.

© Erin Williamson with CCLicense

© groume with CCLicense

Quatre triangles pour deux fenêtres, Rue Édouard VII

© Jason Whittaker

Musée des Beaux Arts, Nancy, France

© Matt Rosser with CCLicense

Three Ellipses for Three Locks, Cardiff Bay Barrage

© Maxime Felder with CCLicense

Cercle et suite d’éclats, Vercorin, Switzerland

© Erin Williamson with CCLicense