ume captures the precise moment of the cyclical transition from winter to spring, symbolising the hope of regeneration and a new beginning. Inspiring was a haiku by the Japanese poet Buson of plum blossoms returning to a leafless tree in a moonlit night.

ume comprises self-contained revolving images of plum blossoms in the form of thaumatropes, powered by solar cells. One side of the disk depicts leafless shoots stemming from the branches of a plum tree. On the reverse are bright red blossoms in several stages of development. Due to the persistence of vision, the eyes paint a single image out of two.
Only with the rays of the sun will the blossoms be seen in their entirety, as the sunlight provides the essential energy for the work to come to life.

Plum tree garden in Mito, Japan (2004)

ume is the first outcome of the aim to integrate alternative energy ~ in the fields. The sun should not be seen as merely an energy source – it is an integral part of the concept and forms the work itself. Each of the 50 components reacts autonomously to the light stimulus provided by 50 solar cells. Even the smallest changes in the sky, such as moving clouds, are mirrored. In binary terms, there is spring or there is not.
 The movement of air created by the thaumatropes evokes the sensation of a breeze wafting through the branches of a tree.
Only the scent of the blossom is absent.

ume was shown during the Edinburgh Art Festival in 2006, in Stills Gallery as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival in 2007, in 2007 at the Old Truman Brewery, London and Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh, and as part of the Travelling Gallery‘s Access All Areas Exhibition.

There are also five small versions of ume with ten thaumatropes each.



Work: Medium: , , , , 2006

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