Exploratorium: Home

Fujiko Nakaya

Fujiko Nakaya

Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya is the daughter of the physicist and science essayist Ukichiro Nakaya, renowned for his work in glaciology and snow crystal photography. Like her father, Ms. Nakaya’s lifelong artistic investigation engages the element of water and instills a sense of wonder in everyday weather phenomena. Working as part of the legendary group Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), she enshrouded the Pepsi Pavilion at the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka in vaporous fog, becoming the first artist to create a sculptural fog environment.

Since that first project, Nakaya has created fog gardens, falls, and geysers all over the world. You can experience her permanent fog landscapes at the Nakaya Ukichoro Museum of Snow and Ice in Ishikawa, Japan; the Australian National Gallery in Canberra; and the Jardin de L'Eau, in the Parc de la Villette, Paris. She recently created a fog sculpture for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and consulted with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro on the Blur Building for the Swiss Expo in 2002 on Lake Neuchatel. Nakaya has also collaborated with artists Trisha Brown, David Tudor, and Bill Viola to develop fog performances and stage sets.

Nakaya collaborated with Thomas Mee, a Los Angeles-based engineer, in the development of her first fog installation in 1970. Mee had originally developed techniques for generating chemical-based artificial fog to protect orchards from frost. Through their collaboration and perseverance, Mee figured out a system for generating water-based artificial fog. The company he founded, Mee Industries, is now operated by his children. Nakaya has been collaborating with Mee for the last forty years.

Although Nakaya’s fog environments have been presented around the world, this is her first project in the San Francisco Bay Area, a region famous for its dramatic fog. With the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, the completion of the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the America’s Cup, and the reopening of the Exploratorium on the San Francisco waterfront, 2013 was viewed in San Francisco as the Year of the Bay. Amid all of the water-related activity, Nakaya’s project heightened public awareness of San Francisco’s dynamic weather and bay ecology for an international public. Fog Bridge is now a permanent installation at the Exploratorium.

The first comprehensive monograph of Nakaya's work, presenting more than fifty fog works created for public spaces around the world, as well as video and painting works, was recently published along with a DVD by Anarchive, France.

04/17/2013

Debuted at the Exploratorium’s reopening in April 2013, Nakaya’s fog installation stretches across the 150-foot-long pedestrian bridge that spans the water between Piers 15 and 17. Water pumped at high pressure through more than 800 nozzles lining the bridge creates an immersive environment that shrouds participants in mist and puts their senses and surroundings at the center of the experience. The installation remains permanently on display at the Exploratorium.