You will encounter a boat enveloped by light as you enter a dark storage space. Visitors can lie inside the boat and contemplate the cycle of life. The inspiration of this work was a traditional Japanese boat, which Nagasawa saw at the Seto Inland Sea Folk History Museum. She constructed a boat frame similar to a traditional Japanese boat known locally as “tenma boat,” which was Seto Inland Sea’s only means of communication between the islands. In the past, people had a humble relationship with the sea that provided food and, at times, took the lives of people. They had a great respect for the sea. Optical fiber, which is the tool for global communication was then woven onto a stainless steel boat frame.
This special optical fiber was developed by the traditional kimono weavers in Nishijin in Kyoto, hence combining the traditional technique of weaving with the most advanced optical fiber technology. Nagasawa recorded the sound of the Inland Sea in Shodoshima Island and linked the sound with the pulsation of the optical fiber light. The boat is interactive with the ebb and flow of the waves and pulsates slowly in gradations of deep blue as if the boat is breathing. The color of the optical fiber will change and becomes brighter based on the body movement of a person in the boat. Life in the womb develops in water.
The “heart beat” of the boat, enveloped in light, is the pulsation of the life of the Setouchi Inland Sea. People can lie inside the boat and experience birth, as well as the moment when you cross the threshold between life and death. Nagasawa listened to the sound of waves on her first visit to Shodoshima Island, and developed her idea for this installation. Her concept is reflected in her Japanese title of this work.
“Umi no Utsuwa” has a double meaning: “Vessel (container) of the Sea,” and “Vessel (womb) of birth/life.” However, the English word for “vessel” is a ship, so in English, she titled her installation “Voyage through the Void.” The boat becomes a vessel voyaging on the fleeting journey from the void to birth and traveling through life to the void at death.
Nagasawa used templates to make two large drawings of the boat adjacent to the main installation. The hazy glow along the rim of the boats is due to the stenciling process, in which she stamped graphite powder through small needle sized holes. The haze of the “floating boat” drawings is a metaphor of the traditional Japanese boat that has disappeared from the Setoushi Inland Sea.