On July 7th, there was the 100th anniversary of the beloved Japanese drink CALPIS. Combining this event with the celebration of the Japanese star festival Tanabata, which took place on the same day, Emmanuelle Moureaux unveiled two installations – Universe of Words and 100 Message Bottles – at the CALPIS 100th Year Anniversary, Let’s Meet at Tanabata exhibition.
On Tanabata day, people write their hopes and dreams on colored pieces of paper and hang them on a bamboo branch in hopes that their wishes will come true. Emmanuelle reimagines this tradition by extracting the sense of Tanabata onto the floating words. She chose the simplest written alphabet children first learn, hiragana, composed of 46 different characters.
On Tanabata, hiragana characters are used to express hopes and dreams. The universe created by these floating hiraganas evokes emotion through its stillness and its endlessness. By condensing the essence of the word itself, it derives to the emotion. The characters symbolize the wishful colored pieces of paper swaying from the bamboo branch.
The installation was composed of approximately 140,000 hiragana characters aligned regularly in three-dimensional grids. Visitors could walk inside the colorful space filled with hiragana to share the sense of stillness. Some sections were removed, creating paths that cut through the installation. Walking through the countless numbers of hiragana characters, words gradually come to mind.
As part of Emmanuelle’s 100 Colors series, the layers of characters were colored in 100 shades of colors, creating a colorful Universe of Words. Within those characters, CALPIS bottles figures were lost and could be found along with the CALPIS logo, adding playfulness to the installation.
One of the paths led the visitors to the next room, where the 100 Message Bottles installation was located. This installation was designed for visitors and their loved ones to find the one message bottle which best described their relationships. 100 CALPIS bottles specially designed in 100 shades of colors were associated with 100 words such as friendship, longing, warmth… Once viewers found their word, they could take a photo in front of their message bottle to remember the moment.