Dai Fujiwara picks up the fallen ears of the future

Dai Fujiwara showed me his new video.


A subway platform appeared on the screen. It was New York. While many people are walking quickly, the camera captures a man.


He is wearing a crisp windbreaker, walking slowly at a different pace than the people around him, looking down the wall of the passage. In one hand is a Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner. He continues walking, vacuuming the aisle.


Although his hat covers his skinhead, I can tell from his thick-rimmed glasses, another trademark, that he is Dai Fujiwara. He must be collecting something with his vacuum cleaner, because it is hard to imagine him cleaning a subway station in New York.


This reminded me of the documentary film "Picking Up Fallen Ears" (2000) by Agnes Varda. Director Varda was reminded of Millet's famous painting "The Picking of Fallen Ears" (1857) when she happened to see people picking up fallen vegetables at a marché in Paris, and used a handheld camera to film contemporary "people picking up things" all over France in this road movie.


Picking up fallen ears is the act of gathering up fallen ears after the harvest of grain. The practice is mentioned in the Old Testament, and is said to have remained in European rural society until the early modern era as a right of the poor and socially vulnerable.


The film shows a variety of people, young and old, picking up fallen ears, from potatoes discarded in the fields to oysters thrown away at fishing ports (both as substandard items), furniture and electrical appliances, not only to stave off hunger, but also to be used as materials for volunteer work and art. In France, the situation of "picking up the fallen" has become more complicated.


Fujiwara's "picking up the fallen" is more radical.


His setting is a future where the number of animals has decreased due to climate change and changes in the global economy. If there will be more garbage and fewer animals, what will happen to the materials used for clothing? To answer this question, he collected trash on the streets of New York and Tokyo.


From the video "Garbage Turned Yarn-Grassland Sweater, Urban Sweater " a scene in the Great Plains of Mongolia.

He also went to the grasslands of Mongolia and used the same vacuum cleaner to collect the hair dropped by animals such as sheep, cashmere goats, yaks, and goats. The goggles he wears in the video transmit the location of the animal hair that the drone detects on the grassland.


After cleaning and hand spinning the collected hair and trash, he was able to produce beige and brown yarn from the Mongolian animals and gray yarn from the urban trash.

Grassland Sweater, 2021


Urban Sweater, 2021

 From these yarns, eight sweaters were knitted. The video and the sweaters were exhibited in a piece called "Garbage Turned Yarn: Glassland Sweater, Urban Sweater".

"Garbage Turned Yarn: Glassland Sweater, Urban Sweater" Exhibition view at HKDI Gallery


 This work is on display in Mr. Fujiwara's solo exhibition, "The Road of My Cyber Physical Hands," which is being held at HKDI Gallery in Hong Kong until March 28 this year. Due to the spread of the new coronavirus infection, Fujiwara and his staff did not travel to Hong Kong and gave all installation instructions remotely.


The first large-scale solo exhibition in Hong Kong was curated by Fujiwara himself, and consisted of three parts: a section that summarized his work from his student days to his recent work, a section that summarized his unique design method "Color Hunting" project, and a section that displayed his two latest works.


It is clear to see that his creative activities, which started with creating things with his hands, have developed under various influences and have led to his current interest (connecting cyberspace and the real world).


For example, a work from his student days that is being shown for the first time.


His early photographic works, in which he set up a red hat on the sea floor and photographed the contrast between the color of the water and the movement of the cloth as it fluttered in the current, already show his strong interest in the relationship between color and environment and the material of cloth.


His graduation project, a gender-free baseball glove, was based on thorough research of materials, and his design approach of rethinking the structure, consolidating functions, and reducing the manufacturing process led to his later work for A-POC.


Picking the color of the Hong Kong sky. 《Color Hunting in Hong Kong》


These works can be said to be the seeds of Fujiwara's work. There are many seeds being sown, and "Color Hunting" is one of them.


This is a design method in which the artist creates color chips by mixing watercolors while looking at the colors of objects in front of him, and then acquires the colors of the objects to carry out design work. Various projects have grown up, including the exhibition "Color Hunting"(1_21 DESIGN SIGHT, 2013), "Lion Shoes" created by Camper, and the design of a train car for Enoshima Electric Railway.


Installation view at HKDI Gallery, "Lion Shoes" running on a red platform  


Dai Fujiwara is an extremely dynamic creator who sows seeds, gathers colors, and picks up the fallen ears of the future. In this new work, Fujiwara's ability to think and act on a large scale (he traveled to Africa to collect the color of lions and Mongolia to pick up animal hair) is on full display, sharing with us the joy of living in the modern age, awareness of problems and thrill.


It is difficult to visit the exhibition in Hong Kong, but you can view it online at the gallery's website. You can also download the exhibition guide and booklet.



On Saturday, March 20, from 8:00 p.m., Mr. Fujiwara will give an online gallery tour in Japanese. On the 27th and 28th of the same month, the tour will be in English. (Free of charge)


Click here for the only catalog of Fujiwara's exhibition so far, COLOR HUNTING: Designing from Color



All images are borrowed from HKDI Gallery Showcases "Dai Fujiwara The Road of My Cyber Physical Hands" Press Release