Plants in Space: Japanese Artist Reaches New Heights
From intricately designed manhole covers to the jaw-droppingly realistic food samples seen in restaurant window displays, Japanese people have long been known for creating aesthetically pleasing objects in the human environment. Leave it then to a Japanese artist to decorate space. Literally.
In mid-July, Tokyo-based botanical artist Makoto Azuma launched two installations, including a bonsai from his private collection, into the stratosphere. The results of his endeavor were...yes, out-of-this-world.
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Teaming up with JP Aerospace, a volunteer-based organization headquartered in Sacramento, California, Azuma and his crew sent two pieces into orbit from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. For his first piece, Azuma arranged of variety of orchids, hydrangeas, lilies, and irises around metal rods into a bouquet. Carried by a helium balloon, the bouquet traveled 87,000 feet before the balloon burst.
The truly unique piece, however, was the 50-year old white pine bonsai from his private collection. Supported by a metal frame and also lifted by helium balloon, the bonsai traveled for 100 minutes, reaching almost 92,000 feet. The juxtaposition of the colorful blooms and the bonsai with the dark void of space produced a sight like nothing seen before.
In order to record each installation’s flight, the JP Aerospace team crafted two vessels that carried several still and video cameras. Each device was equipped with two tracking systems, one of which was a Spot GPS tracker to record altitude, distance traveled, and each vessel’s re-entry path.
On the morning of the launch, Azuma stated:
“I wanted to see the movement and beauty of plants and flowers suspended in space.”
The artist got his wish. The cameras captured remarkable images, proving Azuma`s project a success.
The bouquet of flowers and the bonsai may now be drifting through space, lost to Azuma and his crew forever, but what he has created just might be the beginning of a new art form. If flowers can be photographed in space, who knows what else will be used to decorate the final frontier?
One thing is for sure: space has received a very nice splash of color.
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Contributor Shannon Saruwatashi is Superwoman; she chases after her two small girls for most of the day, heads up the Nagasaki International Women`s Association (NIWA), teaches English, and is big into all things Japan. Thanks to her eldest daughter she is somewhat of an Anpanman/Youkai Watch expert. She’s crazy about variety comedy shows and hopes to become the fourth member of Mori Sanchu one day. Her hobbies include photography, blogging, and too many musical instruments to learn any of them properly. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in the Japanese language.