Abiko International Open-air Art Exhibition

Abiko International Open-air Art Exhibition is an art project that has been running for 19 years by the amazing Egami Hiroshi.

Simon Whetham was one of 7 international artists invited to participate in the event in October 2016, alongside a large number of Japanese artists. During his time there he created two works to be exhibited outdoors.

The first was the focal piece, which was titled 'Fureai' as it translates as both a gentle touch and a relationship between people.

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As you can see from the last photo, seven scavenged speakers were used in the piece. Each was fixed inside sections of old bamboo, which helped amplify them. The sound source was a metal dish that is normally used to hold burning mosquito repellent coils filled with coarse sand and small rocks found in Ayomori Park, one of two sites work was exhibited. A contact microphone was attached to the underside of the dish as was a small amplifier circuit and the dish was attached to a larger section of old bamboo.

The piece used 3 small cheap solar panels as a power source, so the piece only functions during daylight hours.

The title is relevant in terms of both definitions as you have to touch the sand and rocks to generate the sound, which is then heard from the bamboo sections hanging from the sakura branches that extend over the main path through the park. The branches intertwine over the path, almost touching, so the piece actually connects them.

The sound is heard from every bamboo section, so if one person generates the sound, it can be heard from standing next to the other tree.

The second piece was playfully titled 'Return 2 (or 'to', or 'too')' as it resembled a work created in Tsukuba in 2015. An old cupboard was due to be disposed of, so was appropriated and turned into a simple stringed instrument. The initial idea was for the wind to play the strings when it hit metal strips suspended from above, but the position chosen to display the work had very little wind activity, so the work became one to interact with - if one could find it...

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There's even a short video showcasing the artists' work for this year's exhibition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEbhQNRUQXY