Isabelle Harada’s WORK / W=Fd consists of 999 golden paper cranes suspended from the ceiling and a looped projection on a single unfolded sheet, bathed in an artificial sunset. An allusion to the Japanese tradition of the origami crane and its mythical origin, the installation explores the nature of time and energy in terms of materiality and the virtual.
It is said that if one folds 1000 paper cranes, a crane will grant you a wish. Traditionally, a Japanese woman will fold 1000 cranes during her engagement, which her father presents to the groom upon their marriage. As representations of the work one should be willing to do on behalf of their partner, each crane can be seen as an object that encapsulates a specific amount of time and energy: they take approximately 10 minutes to fold and each requires the same series of folds and “force” to complete.
In the aftermath and deconstruction of her engagement to be married, the artist found that there were two different concepts of how to put work into a relationship: material and virtual. During the conflation of the two - the virtual work had potential to circumvent the actualized and vice versa. The weight of the unfolded sheet is indicative of this critically distracting moment.
In his book, In Praise of Shadow, Junichiro Tanizaki writes about how the traditional Japanese aesthetic works within the constraints of the physical world - specifically with regard to light and shadow. The gold foil in lacquerware is supposed to be viewed by candlelight, emerging from darkness while dinner is being served. Tanizaki comments that to see them in harsh, artificial light, cheapens their experience, making them less appreciable in western cultures that light their world without finding beauty in darkness. Working with the refractive behavior of photons, the Japanese traditionally lighted some of their rooms according to sunrise and sunset by putting windows at the tops and bottoms of walls to capture the differences in hues.
Harada’s installation plays with these aesthetic concerns through the framework of personal and historical narrative, shining a spotlight on incongruities that appear during the construction of visual metaphor. Presenting the dichotomies of energy/production/material vs. potential/strategy/virtual, the artist illuminates the spectral nature of such convenient categorization and refocuses on moments of overlap.
ISABELLE HARADA (b. 1992 Cambridge, MA) is an installation artist based in Los Angeles. She earned her BFA in Animated Arts from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and is currently an MFA candidate in Art & Technology at the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA. Harada’s work centers on virtual and physical identities and incorporates sculptural, projected, and sonic elements.