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Lucas Isawa: Koinobori

by Phuong-Cac Nguyen
on 30 July 2008

By combining traditional Japanese Carp-shaped wind socks with paper lanterns, artist Lucas Isawa has turned his floating and illuminated school of fish into a breathtakingly peaceful spectacle.

Building on koinobori (wind socks decorated with colorful Carp and flown in Japan on Children's Day), Isawa uses bamboo to first construct the skeleton shell of his highly-detailed fish and then fills in the gaps with silk paper. They're then hung suspended from the ceiling with a single bulb inside each.


When walking through a room full of them, as I did right before his exhibit closed at the Museu de Casa Brasileira in São Paulo this past week, I got the amazingly surreal feeling of swimming through water, watching all these delicate fish silently twist to and fro in response to the slightest of breezes blowing through the room.

The site has a revealing behind-the-scenes section that shows the impressive process that goes into creating the fish — from stripping the branches to carefully tying them together. If you can read Portuguese, he shows, step-by-step, how to make a traditional koinobori.

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