Tape Tokyo

I was lucky enough to catch the Tape Tokyo exhibition at Spiral in Tokyo on December 14, its very last day. I had heard about the installation created with packing tape and I had hesitated going. I put it off and then put it off some more because I had no idea what to expect. Then I saw a photo of another installation by Numen/For Use made with black nets. I became intrigued. I convinced a friend  to go with me, and we were spell-bound minutes after our arrival.

People waiting to go inside the installation were lined up the stairs inside the building. (That is nothing new in the Omotesando area where people seem to always be lining up to enter the newest restaurant or shop.) We were not sure at first if we had no choice but to line up to see any part of the piece or if we could walk around the perimeter of the space. Thank goodness that somebody else wondered the same  thing and asked the woman behind us the same question! The line was only for those who wished to enter the cocoon-like structure; we did not have to line up to see the structure after all. We quickly gathered our bags and headed past the crowds into the inner sanctum of the atrium.

Neither one of us had been to Spiral before, so we had no idea how large the atrium was or even if it was outside or inside. The cocoon stretched out into a large concrete courtyard closed to all natural elements except sunshine and moonlight. A large spiral ramp that gives the building its name curled up to the second floor, but the space stretched up way above us. It looked like we were on location for the filming of the next in the series of Alien films, but it felt like one of those Moonwalk sites set up at summer carnivals where children bounce around inside. The plastic felt surprisingly strong!

View of the installation taken by Susanne Bund with a fish-eye lens. On the floor is me, Michelle Zacharias.
View of the installation taken by Susanne Bund with a fish-eye lens. On the floor is me, Michelle Zacharias.
Me sitting down on the concrete floor of Spiral's Atrium. (Photo by Susanne Bund.)
Me sitting down on the concrete floor of Spiral’s Atrium. (Photo by Susanne Bund.)
Me facing left, and a participant going right. (Photo by Susanne Bund.)
Me facing left, and a participant going right. (Photo by Susanne Bund.)
Shadows in the Ring's Centre
Shadows in the Ring’s Centre
Pipes and wires holding the installation up.
Pipes and wires holding the installation up.
Sitting inside the cocoon and waiting...
Sitting inside the cocoon and waiting…
As seen from the outside, people inside the cocoon appeared as shadows.
As seen from the outside, people inside the cocoon appeared as shadows.
Crawling out of the cocoon with great care. Can't drop the camera!
Crawling out of the cocoon with great care. Can’t drop the camera!
Legs out first!
Legs out first!
The little girl had such a good time crawling around inside the cocoon that she asked, "One time only?"
The little girl had such a good time crawling around inside the cocoon that she asked, “One time only?”
You can see the three divisions here: the Spiral staff supervising everything to ensure safety, the people crawling around inside the cocoon, and the people with their backs turned to the installation and focused on their coffees or dinners. In actuality there was a fourth group: the viewers who were outside the cocoon but were not part of the staff or Spiral shoppers.
You can see the three divisions here: the Spiral staff supervising everything to ensure safety, the people crawling around inside the cocoon, and the people with their backs turned to the installation and focused on their coffees or dinners. In actuality there was a fourth group: the viewers who were outside the cocoon but were not part of the staff or Spiral shoppers.
Numen/For Use created the installation out of metres and metres of ordinary, clear packing tape, but all those layers were strong enough to hold three people in one small area.
Numen/For Use created the installation out of metres and metres of ordinary, clear packing tape, but all those layers were strong enough to hold three people in one small area.
All that remains is the shadow of the small child...
All that remains is the shadow of the small child…
Just a thin filament of tape holds this section up.
Just a thin filament of tape holds this section up.
People had to take off their shoes before getting in on the other end of the installation. Since you cannot walk on concrete floors in socks, slippers were provided for the walk back to the shoes on the other end.
People had to take off their shoes before getting in on the other end of the installation. Since you cannot walk on concrete floors in socks, slippers were provided for the walk back to the shoes on the other end.
"X" might marks the spot, but you cannot see me!
“X” might marks the spot, but you cannot see me!
Clear tape is, of course, translucent, so details of the people inside can be seen.
Clear tape is, of course, translucent, so details of the people inside can be seen.
The light in the atrium also created interesting shadows.
The light in the atrium also created interesting shadows.
Light and shadow; stripes and circles.
Light and shadow; stripes and circles.
Help! Let me out!
Help! Let me out!

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Numen/For Use is an industrial design unit formed by Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler, and Nikola Radeljkovic in 1998 and based in Austria and Croatia. They use the name, “For Use,” mainly for their furniture designs and “Numen” for other work. Numen comes from noumenon,  meaning “substance”.  This group has also created tape installations in Hasselt and Melbourne.

 

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