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Over the Water

Over the Water

The Exploratorium’s new location on a major civic promenade has inspired Over the Water, an annual program of large-scale temporary artworks for the public space. Each year, a curator of international renown will work alongside the Exploratorium to select an artist to develop a project for the museum’s dynamic site on the edge of the city and the bay.

For Over the Water’s inaugural project, the Exploratorium collaborated with architecture and design curator Henry Urbach, director of the Philip Johnson Glass House, to realize a special site-specific installation with Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya. For the next project in 2014, the Exploratorium has engaged Nato Thompson, chief curator at Creative Time in New York.

Fog Bridge #72494

As part of the Exploratorium’s reopening in April 2013, Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya created a fog installation stretching across the 150-foot-long pedestrian bridge that spans the water between Piers 15 and 17. Water pumps at high pressure through more than 800 nozzles, creating an immersive environment that shrouds participants in mist and puts their own senses, perception, and surroundings at the center of their experience. The work is stunningly lit at night.



Seminal Japanese artist and Fog Bridge creator Fujiko Nakaya muses on her ephemeral medium and iconic work for the Exploratorium.

About the Artist

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 a sense of wonder. 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 developing 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 three children. Nakaya has been collaborating with them 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 is being viewed in San Francisco as the Year of the Bay. Amid all of the water-related activity, Nakaya’s project will heighten public awareness of San Francisco’s dynamic weather and bay ecology for an international public.