Windows : art & tech

There are many shared advances, applications and meaning between art, science, and technology. A very nice and interesting example was demonstrated this winter at the Museum of Modern Art of Tokyo (MOMAT) with a special exhibit on Windows. This exhibition was prepared in collaboration with the Window Research Institute of Tokyo (yes, there is such as thing!).

The curator even took the time to build a chronology that puts in parallel artworks, technological advances and architectural displays related to windows:

So what is so interesting about windows?

  • Windows can be an opening on the world, as illustrated by the photographs of Gozu Masao of people looking through windows. As the Italian painter from the Renaissance Alberti explained, windows are like paintings. Taking pictures of or painting windows is not a random act, but is instead like the painting of a painting or a window opening on another window. Many artists played with this, such as Matisse, Bonnard in Europe or Motai Takeshi and Hasegawa Kiyoshio in Japan.
  • Windows are also opening on objects as with the development of glass, windows in shops appeared in the 20th century to create the activity of window shopping, cf the photographs of the Parisian Eugène Atget (pic). Robert Doisneau put a humoristic feature to window shopping pictures, see below:
  • Windows are also highly present in paintings to create 3D effects using the technique “trompe-l’oeil”. In the picture below by the Japanese painter Kishida Ryusei, the portrait of Reiko seems to be going outside of the frame because of the shadows at the top of the painting. (I know, there is also my shadow in it now).
  • In modern art, windows have been inspiring through squares and grid themes, such as in the painting by Kandinsky (see below), “Abstraction with reference to a flowering tree”, or other paintings by Roy Lichtenstein, “frame IV”, Bertrand Lavier, “Painting under glass”, or Hayashida Reiich (see below).
  • Windows, on the contrary, can also be a closed door and a wall to the world, like in prisons or monasteries, like in the photographs of trappiest monasteries from Narahara Ikko.
  • Windows bring light into the room, but also show the time going by outdoors. Looking through the window to see the life passing can be an occupation of spies, of the elderly, the sick, or the curious. Remember Rear Window by Hitchcock. In the short video “From my window”, the Polish artist Jozef Robakowski film the parking below his apartment blog, from his 11th floor from 1978 till 1999. He recorded the variations across seasons and years: the habits of his neighbours, the fashion, the constructions, etc.
  • Nowadays, windows are screens, “providing multiple viewpoints”, explains the American film scholar Anne Friedberg. JODI, the duet of artists Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans created various displays featuring screens (see below).
  • In addition, windows are dotted of kinetics: they close and open, there is ventilation, the shutters can be actuated remotely, etc. Roman Signer created displays with window shutters with rockets (explosive art!).
  • Windows are also door that can be opened and crossed, as Tintin is doing below, as well as door to other worlds, similarly as torii, the Japanese gates to Shinto shrines. The artist Ikenizu Keiichi, create one:
  • Finally, windows are transparent, but also be opaque, semi translucent, colourful: a great playground for artists like Gerahrd Richter. The 8 glass panels in the picture below are made with 35% reflective glass.

Hope you enjoy the current 4 level of windows we have here: looking at pictures of paintings representing windows through a window screen!