Tomitaro Nachi, Windspiele, 1995, 51°57'52.4"N 7°37'45.7"E


Tomitaro Nachi, Windspiele, 1995


The artwork by the Japanese artist Tomitaro Nachi (born 1924 in Yokohama, died 2007 in Ulm) was commissioned by Karstadt AG and donated to the City of Münster in 1995 as a gift to subsequently mark the city’s anniversary in 1993. The artist conceived a kinetic work for the busy square in Münster’s Salzstraße, involving an interplay of form, colour, wind and light. He installed five stainless steel poles, between 6.4 m and 7.4 m high, set up at regular intervals from each other. On each pole, a flag-like aluminium wing, up to 3 m long, is mounted on a ball bearing. The movable wings are coloured on both sides: on one side they are designed in striped patterns in various shades of yellow, green and blue; the other sides are kept monochrome, with Nachi repeating the colours of the stripes and adding a darker blue and yellow. The pole in the centre of the work is elevated by a ring-shaped granite slab set into the floor, its material referring to the building of the department store behind it. The surrounding bronze profiles bear the names of Münster’s international twin towns: Rishon Le Zion (3,100 km), Mulhouse (300 km), Lublin (1,000 km), Ryazan (2,000 km), Kristiansand (700 km), York (600 km), Fresno (11,500 km), Orleans (600 km), Monastir (1,800 km).

Even a slight breeze sets the rotating wings in motion; flashing briefly and disappearing again, sunlight illuminates the work. Particularly the monochrome sides reflect the sunlight. When the wind is merely light, the flags move in different directions; when the wind is strong, they position themselves evenly in the direction of the wind. When the wind dies down, the wings return to their original positions. The concept of the Windspiele [Wind Plays] is based on the physical principles of light kinetics, defining not only the mechanical theory of movement, but also resulting optical influences and effects on objects and their individual perception by a subject. The artist focuses in particular on the play of light and colour determined by environmental influences such as wind and sun. The artist makes the fleeting moment of a natural phenomenon tangible, which marks a special feature of his work. Similar works by Nachi can be found in front of the university hospital in Erlangen, in the Huchtingen district of Bremen and at the Kiel-Schilksee Olympic Centre. In addition, his sculptures were on display at the Venice Biennale in 1970 and 1972 and at the documenta in Kassel in 1977.

Windspiele is one of several other kinetic objects found in Münster. All works have in common that the allegedly static form of sculpture is broken up by incorporating natural phenomena as an artistic material. Exemplary for this are George Rickey’s Three Squares Gyratory II (1973-75), which questions its own material properties through playful movement, or the sculpture Wasser-Plastik (1977) by Heinz Mack that influences the perception of light with its fine water mist.

Constanze Venjakob