Watches are one of the most familiar "machines" to people.
At this very moment, various watches and clocks of
various people around the world are ticking the same time in order to tell "time,"
an important information that is indispensable for human life.
Seiko has continuously honed its proprietary technologies to
pursue the fundamental function of watches: telling time.
In the process, we have discovered that there are added dimensions like beauty and enjoyment,
offering new charms that extend beyond their fundamental function of telling time.
This exhibition, titled Forest of Mechanism,
focuses on such "fascination of watches that dwell beyond their functions.”
For the 2023 edition of Forest of Mechanism,
three outside creative groups — nomena, siro, and TANGENT —
and the Seiko Design Center Department have ingeniously crafted artworks.
These pieces are inspired by the enduring legacy of Seiko's technological prowess,
specifically centered around the mechanical watch.
Exhibition director Kentaro Hirase has thoughtfully curated
these diverse creations within a dedicated space known as the Seiko Seed.
We hope that you will experience the diverse charms that lie beyond the technology of
"mechanisms" which has continued to evolve through the ages up to the present day.
The experience of disassembling a mechanical watch for the first time was full of surprises.
Each of the sophisticated parts was beautiful, and the way they were intricately assembled and moved together conveyed to us not only an essence of life that transcended mechanics, but also a sense of purity, as if the physical laws that govern time itself had taken shape.
When we were struck by the marvel that these watches were brought to life by human hands, a desire arose within us to relive the accumulated wisdom of our predecessors. We sought to reconstruct a historical watch mechanism with our own hands, uncovering the significance of its form, the intricacies of its miniature nature, and the precise cadence of its timekeeping. The traces of engineers' trials and errors, perceptible through the process of creating the watch, became apparent for the first time.
The artwork springs to life as a Seiko mechanical watch's hands align at zero seconds. As if the piece is retracing its own history, the movement chains to neighboring mechanisms, each marking its distinct rhythm. The torch of mechanical watch technology is passed down from the past through the present and into the boundless future.
Delving into mechanical watches, we came across the “Watch Timing Machine.” This device fine-tunes a watch's pace by measuring its sound—a concept akin to assessing our well-being through our heartbeat. It heightened our impression of mechanical watches as living organisms.
We also contemplated the concept of time itself, precisely conveyed by watches. As our discussions deepened, we pondered the possibility of exploring the concept of time through water as a medium. This idea motivated us to create something that marks time: droplets of water formed from moment to moment, which assemble and accumulate over time.
“Drops of Time” encapsulates time within water droplets, driven by the sound of an accurate mechanical watch that serves as its heart. We invite our audience to observe the behavior of the water droplets and briefly immerse themselves in the experience of time.
Within a mechanical watch lies a component that keeps a constant rhythm.
This component serves as the heart, ensuring accurate time measurement and display. Yet, in isolation, it does not directly tell the time; it merely oscillates.
Observing this, we came to recognize that the human-crafted dial is just one method of expressing time, while time itself persists in its ceaseless flow and progression regardless of it.
n this artwork, we endeavored to encapsulate the universal nature of time by embedding components of a mechanical watch within a stone.
The component, persistently in motion much like a human heart, serves as a reminder that a shared undercurrent of time courses through both human existence and the steadfast stone.
We, with lifespans reaching at most 100 years, and stones, which have undergone transformations over the course of the 4.6 billion years since the birth of the earth, mark the same time. A day for a person equals a day for a stone; all entities evolve and exist day by day, united by the passage of time.
How did people originally become aware of "time?"
The changing phases of the moon. The meandering flow of water. The shifting play of a shadow. The gradual growth of plants and blossoms.
They must have discerned the passage of time from natural phenomena.
Sundials harnessing the power of sunlight. Water clocks regulated by the steady flow of water.
And mechanical watches that use the springiness of metal.
The evolution of watches is a history of condensing the "power of nature," so to speak, and this history is reflected in all parts of the watch mechanism, such as the shape and materials of the gears.
However, in our modern era, where accurate time is a mere glance away on our screens, the concept of "time" has transformed into uniform data, and we are less aware of its rich context.
This artwork is an attempt to release the "power of nature" encapsulated within machines by overlaying motifs gifted by nature onto the movement of watch mechanisms.
The rhythmic beat of the seconds hand, a distinctive feature of mechanical watches, is extended throughout the space, as it intertwines with the motifs connected to the wires, evoking the nature hidden behind the mechanisms.
Through the scenes created by these small machines, which continue to move devotedly, we hope you will recall the memories of each distinct moment in "time."
October 13, 2023 - December 24, 2023 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
(Admission until 7:45 p.m.*) No closed days
1-14-30 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001 WITH HARAJUKU 1F
JR Yamanote Line HARAJUKU Sta. East Gate
Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line & Fukutoshin Line MEIJI-JINGUMAE〈HARAJUKU〉 Sta.
Seiko Watch Corporation
nomena, siro, TANGENT, Seiko Watch Corporation Design center Dept.
Seiko Watch Corporation Movement Design & Engineering Dept.
Kentaro Hirase （CANOPUS）
Toshiki Kiriyama （TRUNK）
* No watches are for sales.
Since its establishment in 2012, the group has worked on unique, unprecedented creative projects, driven by multidisciplinary knowledge gained through daily research and experiments and collaboration between creators and clients. Recent projects include participating in joint research with research institutes like the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the mechanical design of the Olympic flame cauldron for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. The group’s awards include the Excellence Award in the Art Division of the Japan Media Arts Festival in 2022, the Pen Creator Award in 2021, the DSA Design Award Gold Prize in 2017, the Excellence Award in the Japan Sign Design Association’s SDA Awards in 2017, and the Grand Prix at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo’s Bloomberg Pavilion Project open exhibition in 2012.https://nomena.co.jp/
siro is a company dedicated to the art of "monozukuri," a practice that involves giving life to ideas and concepts with meticulous attention to detail. We believe that the process of monozukuri starts with conceiving and planning, merging various skills such as design and engineering. Through an exceptional display of teamwork, our objective is to strive for the achievement of truly remarkable outcomes.
At siro, we collaborate closely with external talents to carry out our work. The production team behind the project "Forest of Mechanism" has also involved the commitment of many members from outside siro. This team comprises individuals skilled in planning, design, and engineering, who are also actively engaged in creating their own works. By gathering their skills and ideas, our goal is to uplift one another and create exceptional pieces.
Tangent was established in London in 2015. Through innovative fusions of design and engineering, it delivers various designs and concepts to international luxury brands and carries out diverse projects, from tech-driven research to urban development. It recently launched Craft x Tech, a global initiative that interweaves traditional Japanese craft with cutting-edge technology, and promotes the advancement and succession of the country’s traditional culture.www.tngnt.uk
Since its foundation in 1881, Seiko has introduced many innovative timepieces, including Japan's first wristwatch and the world's first quartz wristwatch, to the people around the world through its relentless pursuit of accuracy and beauty, in line with the founder's philosophy, “Always one step ahead of the rest.”
Today, as one of the few fully integrated “manufactures” worldwide, Seiko continues to provide joy and excitement that resonate with customers' sensibilities through watches based on a Japanese sense of beauty, combining advanced technology with craftsmanship.
1986 Born in San Francisco.
Graduated from Keio University SFC, Akira Wakita Laboratory.
Graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Graduate School of Film and New Media, Masahiko Sato Laboratory.
2013 Founded "CANOPUS", a design studio that focuses on "Media Design".
2020 Founded "gogatsu", a movie and video planning office, with Masahiko Sato and Yutaro Seki.
With "Media Design" as the axis of his activities, he is constantly searching for new expressions in various media such as video, movies, digital contents, graphics, and products.
Something strange happened.
In modern times, most of what we call "machines" are powered by electricity.
We have no doubt about the power of electricity; in fact, we even feel as if being electrically powered is a guarantee of precision and accuracy.
That is why we are so impressed by the existence of mechanical watches.
Consider one simple fact: this small machine, marking time without any deviation, derives its energy not from electricity, but from the mechanical force of a hand-wound spring.
We are also fascinated by the intricately elaborate mechanism enabling its operation and the inherent beauty it exhibits.
This exhibition was initiated by four creative groups who all felt this irresistible inspiration, interpreting the charm of mechanical watches from their own unique perspectives and reconstructing them through their own expressions.
However, in the midst of all this, something strange happened.
As these creators delved into their projects, an unexpected common keyword began to emerge from all of them, as if by design.
Animacy = An essence of life
When watch components exhibit organic-like behavior, resembling life even though they are lifeless themselves, it's not uncommon for humans to sense an intangible "essence of life" within them—a cognitive phenomenon.
However, the behavior of this mechanical watch is rather the opposite.
It is a straightforward machine that unceasingly keeps its hands moving with unmatched accuracy and regularity. That is what a watch is.
So, what led them to find "Animacy" in the mechanical watch?
This exhibition was consequently reconstructed as an attempt to glimpse the true nature of "Animacy" found within watches from four different perspectives through the motif of mechanical watches.
Needless to say, a mechanical watch, tirelessly in motion as long as its mainspring is wound, can also be seen as a symbol of permanence, especially for those of us dependent on less sustainable energy sources.
As we observe the modest yet powerful movement of the hands, we find ourselves contemplating whether this machine, with a history of over 700 years, holds enigmatic hints about the future we are journeying into.