Aki Inomata shows us not only humans are capable of creating art

This innovative Japanese artist believes other creatures can show us different perspectives of our own reality.

By Alejandro Ruelas

Oct 30, 2019

What if we could create art with other living creatures? What would happen if we collaborated with them and let their nature open up new perspectives? How would our reality look like if we saw it through them? These are the questions Japanese artist Aki Inomata has been trying to answer. 

Born in Tokyo in 1983, Aki Inomata is a visual artist and lecturer who has dedicated her work to creating art out of interactions with other creatures. She studied inter-media art at the Tokyo University of the Arts and soon started delving into an interesting notion: that the act of “making” is not exclusive to mankind. 

Her process is unique

First, she studies the creature in question, no matter how small in size. The goal is to find in it a unique characteristic, whether in form or behavior, that can shed new light on human reality. It’s not a question of seeing like the creature but through it.

This is how she came up with works such as Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs?. It consisted of 3D printed shells or “shelters” for hermit crabs that mimicked cityscapes. These crabs, perpetual temporary residents, seemed to have the freedom to modify their identities by changing their exterior; as easily as swapping clothes. Moreover, they conjured images of migrants and refugees as they seek for better shelters. 

Her ideas have taken her around the world. From Hamburg to Thailand, she has explored how animals such as turtles, parakeets, and even bagworms can contribute to artistic creation. 

Most recently, she came to Mexico to be part of SFER IK’s latest exhibition, ALLIGA. This interdisciplinary experience was designed to raise awareness of the impacts of seaweed surges in the Caribbean. 

Along with other world-renowned artists, she participated with her acclaimed piece Think Evolution #1 Kikuishi (Ammonite). The work, which was also displayed at the Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, features a hermit crab inhabiting a 3D-printed shell form, operating as a metaphor for a possible symbiotic relationship between man and nature. 

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