The Dandelion Project: Sending a Wish for Peace at the G7 Summit | Ryotaro Muramatsu, NAKED Inc. Interview

Dandelion Project Hiroshima Orizuru Tower

Ryotaro Muramatsu is an artist and founder of the creative company NAKED, Inc. He has led projects in various fields, such as film and video production, spatial presentation, and local revitalization. During the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, which took place from the 19th to 21st of May 2023, he presented the Dandelion Project, an interactive art installation first introduced in 2020. In our conversation with Muramatsu, we discussed how he came up with the project, its underlying themes, and the importance of showcasing it at the G7 Summit.

The Dandelion Project: A Modest Desire for Peace

From left: Ryotaro Muramatsu; Mrs. Yuko Kishida, Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan, Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady of the USA; Mrs. Britta Ernst, Spouse of the Chancellor of Germany; Mrs. Akshata Murty, Spouse of the Prime Minister of the UK; and Dr. Heiko Echter von der Leyen, Spouse of the President of the European Commission

The G7 Summit is an international forum attended by the leaders of the seven member states of France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada (in order of rotating presidency), as well as the European Union. In the midst of global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's aggression on Ukraine, the world's attention has been focused on the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, a city that has recovered from the catastrophic damage caused by an atomic bomb.

In conjunction with the G7 Summit, Ryotaro Muramatsu hosted the Dandelion Project at the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower, adjacent to Hiroshima's iconic Atomic Bomb Dome within the Peace Memorial Park. As part of the G7 Hiroshima Summit Partners' Program, the spouses of the G7 leaders had the opportunity to experience this art project on May 19th. The following day, during a social dinner, the esteemed guests of the G7 Summit were treated to an art performance featuring projection mapping by NAKED, Inc. Muramatsu, whether through NAKED, Inc. or as an individual artist, has made significant contributions to the organization of the G7 Summit.

The significance of holding the Dandelion Project during the G7 Hiroshima Summit cannot be understated, as this artwork serves as a unifying force, connecting individuals worldwide through their shared aspirations for peace. In this interactive art installation, a person blowing on a large dandelion object triggers the dispersal of digital dandelion fluff, which then lands on and blossoms flowers on dandelions planted in other locations. Since its inception in the autumn of 2020, this project has fostered connections between various places in Japan, Singapore, and France.

ー What factors influenced your decision to embark on the Dandelion Project?

Muramatsu: As an artist, I thought about the nature of the artwork I wanted to create and found it intriguing to explore a theme that resonates universally. The initial concept for the project emerged from the desire to foster global connections as a means to combat terrorism, envisioning a scenario where prayers for peace, particularly from Islamic nations, would result in blooming flowers at the One World Trade Center. Then the unexpected arrival of COVID-19 pandemic altered my perspective. Since art is said to be a reflection of its time, I throught about what the world needed the most at this time and realized that my creative focus should be "art for peace."

Dandelion Project at the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore (2020)

ー Is that why the project's main message is simply "A World Full of Peace"?

Muramatsu: The "peace" in the title does not just refer to world peace, but also to a peaceful life. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis that has divided the people of the world, and I believe that every one of us is wishing for a return to peaceful life. I thought that if I could express this wish through art, then I would be able to communicate the feeling of the time period.

I think that having this kind of straightforward theme is rare in the art world. During my years as a film director, I sometimes made films that were full of dark humor, but I strongly feel nowadays that the most important things in life are love and peace. This is why I decided on the simple concept of "peace" without any embellishments.

How Art is Becoming More Intangible

Dandelion Project at the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, Japan (2021)

ー The Dandelion Project involves placing objects called "Dandelions" in various locations and connecting them through digital techniques. Did you draw on your experience at NAKED for this project?

Muramatsu: Digital art and imagery exist within bits and bytes, lacking physical substance. However, the true essence of this artwork lies in the profound connections formed as people engage in making digital flowers bloom. The concept of establishing a network holds artistic significance in its own right. What truly matters is the notion of sending a dandelion fluff to elicit the blossoming of a flower for another person, rendering the physical form less crucial. This is why I labeled it as a "project" in the title.

ー Are you essentially presenting an idea in the form of an artwork?

Muramatsu: The physical appearance of the Dandelion holds little significance. When viewed through the lens of art history, one might classify the Dandelion object as art. However, from my perspective, it is merely a tool to convey my proposition that art will increasingly adopt intangible forms. It also serves as an antithesis to the current art world's emphasis on materiality.

A Homecoming to Peace: Exploring the Dandelion Project's Roots in Hiroshima

Dandelion Project Hiroshima Orizuru Tower

In conjunction with the holding of the Dandelion Project in the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower, Dandelions were also planted in the Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris in France and the Kinokuniya Bookstore building in San Francisco. These three locations were connected digitally in real-time.

ー The project has the theme of "peace" is very much in harmony with the themes of the G7 Summit and Hiroshima.

Muramatsu: The Dandelion Project originated during a period characterized by a prevailing sense of disconnection from the world. The idea was conceptualized much earlier. However, it remains an ongoing dialogue with the contemporary era. The invitation to showcase the project at the G7 Summit was a delightful surprise, and I feel that I'm in the middle of a tremendous tidal shift amidst a paradigm shift in our time.

Sometimes, I question if this story is too good to be true, yet it captivates me and instills a profound sense of responsibility to see it through. Above all, it has guided me back to my original aspirations. As the project aligns more closely with its initial vision, it reaffirms my conviction that every step I have taken thus far has been the right one.

Mrs. Yuko Kishida experiences the Dandelion Project at the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower.

Muramatsu unveils one of the motivations behind his decision to pursue a career as an independent artist. "It brings me sheer joy when someone expresses appreciation for something I hold dear. I aim to foster dialogue through my art by saying, 'This is how I feel about it; how about you?'

In parallel with the Dandelion Project that deals with the expansive theme of "peace", he is also working on another project that seeks to establish intimate connections with every individual viewer. Stay tuned for the forthcoming works from Ryotaro Muramatsu that promises excitement and novelty.

Dandelion Project Hiroshima Orizuru Tower
Venue: Hiroshima Orizuru Tower
Address: 1-2-1 Otemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima
Exhibition date: May 19/May 24 to August 31, 2023
Sponsored by: Kansai Innovation Center
Supported by: Hiroshima Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation

Dandelion Project Hiroshima Orizuru Tower

Dandelion Project Paris
Venue: Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris
Address: 101 bis, quai Jacques Chirac 75015 Paris, France
Exhibition date: May 19 to May 27, 2023
Exhibition time: 11:00–19:00

Inaugurated in 1997 through a public-private cooperation project, the Maison de la culture du Japon in Paris is one of the largest centers for Japanese culture outside of Japan. It showcases everything from traditional Japanese to pop culture, and also conducts Japanese language education. It welcomed over 136,000 visitors in 2022.

Dandelion Project San Francisco
Venue: Kinokuniya Bookstore San Francisco Japantown
Address: Japan Center, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA
Exhibition date: May 19 to May 28, 2023 (Fri, Sat, Sun only)
Exhibition time: 12:00–18:00
Organizer: Japantown Community Benefit District, Inc.
In cooperation with: Kinokuniya Bookstores of America, USA

The San Francisco Japantown is a center for Japanese and Japanese-American culture and history in the heart of San Francisco, California. It features authentic Japanese restaurants, grocery stores, handicraft shops, and much more.

To honor the NAKED, Inc. project at the G7 Summit, Whitestone Gallery has unveiled a new limited edition artwork by Muramatsu (*limited 3 quantities available). Check the following link for details.

Ryotaro Muramatsu - Kaleido Jellyfish -2023- Limited Edition

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