Smart Illumination Yokohama 2018: ALL THE YES

“Pacific Feet” by Hiroko Kubo

Woo hoo, it’s time for the annual art-as-entertainment Yokohama Smart Illumination 2018! This year, for some reason it took a giant leap in quality, and although the artspeak “explaining” each piece is equally opaque in Japanese and English, you don’t need to know what the artist was trying to say in order to have a hella good time wandering around and ogling them.

Okay, first of all, the feet. They’re so big, you can go inside. And the colors constantly change, to a soundtrack of footsteps and waves:

This wireframe wonderland sort of makes you feel like you’re in The Matrix (if The Matrix had stuffed bears biting trout and antlers on the walls, that is.) “View Tracing” by Takayuki Mori

The illuminated suit man (Junichi Kusaka) made his annual appearance, and I spotted him making music at another art installation where you can play air drums & guitar. (“Star Jam Street” by Tetsujin Audio-Visual)

I stopped in front of this one for a long time, totally captivated by the ever-changing laser show

Here’s a little hypno-video, so you can see why:

(If anyone knows the name of the artist who made this, please tell me! I can’t find it on the website)

This is a very cool “light graffiti” installation, where you can draw with a light pen. The cool thing about the pens is that they work just like real tagger spray paint – the closer you hold the pen to the wall, the sharper the line, but if you pull away, it gets airbrushy. (“Luminous Graffiti” by Nakagawa Chemical)

But by far my favorite thing at the Smart Illuminations was this piece of killer projection art called “The Wave” (made by the excellently named group, Fukopoly)

I first encountered it as it flowed across the wide lawn that’s divided by low stone walls…

But from the knoll atop the cafe, you can watch it ebb and flow and pour through the gap in the walls in an ever-changing sea of dreams

Here it is in motion, from down on the ground and from up above:

This unexpectedly entertaining floating ball piece is inside the cafe – the balls move mysteriously through the air, and only by looking very hard can you see the twin tracks of filament they’re rolling on (“Ascending and Descending -reflection-” by Rintaro Hara)

I did miss the artist who projected living faces on this building in past years – this year, it changed colors according to sounds captured on the plaza (“Otoiro Rendezvous” by Kyoto Takahashi)

The artworks in the plaza are an easy-to spot beacon from the street, so it’s not hard to find the site, once you get close.

If you haven’t already guessed what I’m going to say in conclusion, here it is: if you’re in Tokyo right now, GO SEE THIS. It’s seriously worth the trek, and also seriously FREE. It’s on through Sunday, November 4, 2018.

Smart Illumination Yokohama 2018

Dates: October 31 – November 4, 2018

Where: Zo-no-hana Park, Yokohama (closest train station is Nihon Odori)

Hours: 17:30 – 21:30

Admission: FREE

When not mesmerized by the glow, Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

In the wake of a deadly earthquake, fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning when it’s discovered that their favorite pop star is among the dead. But when Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by…read more