To some, digital technology has seemed to herald the death, not just of the print magazine, the newspaper and the paperback book, but of paper, itself. So was the Nendo exhibition, Unprinted Material, at the Creation Gallery G8 in Ginza, Tokyo this fall, a eulogy or a love letter, or a little of both?
The exhibition, in three white rooms, reified the ream with a series of simple outlines of paper sheets. In the first room, the outlines were A1 size, in the second, postcard-size and in the third, the outlines hint at objects seemingly crafted from folded paper. Oki Sato’s design team used their hands and a 3D printer to sculpt the outlines of paper sheets to create “an expression” of paper, without using paper, itself.
The thirty 3-mm-thick posters were suspended from the ceiling of the first room, capturing various states of the material, with tears and folded corners, while the 1-mm-thick postcards illustrated, so to speak, the manipulation of paper. Meanwhile the 3D objects represented items like paper bags, milk cartons or paper cups, while an animated film offered clues as to which objects the outlines described.
Some outlines were buckling, creasing or peeling off an invisible wall or, where torn, looked ragged. The familiar character of the material was expressed in these fine but abstracted details, like the remembered outlines of a beloved face.