Eiffel Tower Illuminated with Japanese Art Using Historic, Cutting-Edge Technology
The Eiffel Tower clad in Korin Ogata’s “Irises” screen, a National Treasure (Composite image provided by Motoko Ishii Lighting Design and I.C.O.N., Paris）
For eight months from July 2018 to February 2019, Paris will host “Japonism 2018: Souls in Harmony,” the largest Japanese cultural exposition this century.
Relations between France and Japan date back to the 1858 Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the two countries, making 2018 their 160th year of friendship. To mark the occasion, the French and Japanese governments are collaborating on Japonism 2018. Over 50 events are planned for the exposition, introducing a wide range of Japanese arts and culture: stage performances from traditional performing arts like kabuki, noh, and bunraku to contemporary theater and dance; exhibitions featuring ancient Jomon pieces, works by early modern masters like Jakuchu Ito and the Rinpa school, and contemporary art and architecture; and other events focusing on movies, manga, anime, and even food culture.
The highlight of Japonism 2018 will be a special Eiffel Tower illumination project under the direction of world-renowned lighting designers Motoko Ishii and Akari Lisa Ishii. On September 13 and 14 (Thursday and Friday), from sundown to 1 a.m., the Eiffel Tower will be clad in a robe of Japanese aesthetics.
This will be the first time that the Eiffel Tower, a world-renowned symbol of France that stands on the banks of the Seine, will be adorned with Japanese imagery. A ten-minute loop will be projected which includes a range of images, including the National Treasure “Irises” by Korin Ogata, under the overarching theme “Freedom, Beauty, and Diversity.” The projection itself will be accomplished using the most advanced Japanese technology and equipment, and combined with an original soundtrack.
The illumination will be visible mainly from the side facing the Palais de Chaillot, where the Shochiku Grand Kabuki and other performances are staged and Parisians and tourists alike meet and cross paths. Everyone will be able to enjoy the spectacle at no charge—even those who had never taken an interest in Japan before.
At a press conference held in April, Motoko Ishii said, “This will be an unparalleled opportunity to share Japanese culture and cutting-edge technology more broadly. It will also attract attention as a rare example a creative project by a Japanese mother-daughter team.” Her daughter Akari Lisa Ishii added, “There were many challenges to overcome for this illumination project, and the Eiffel tower’s unique construction had to be considered carefully. However, I am extremely delighted to be able to introduce the art of my home country in my ‘second home’ of France.”
According to the Ishiis, an on-site test conducted in March received a strong welcome. The full project in September promises to be an event to remember—a fitting centerpiece to the excitement of Japonism 2018. It’s enough to make you want to fly into Paris for a two-night stay just to see it!
“Japonism 2018: Souls in Harmony” Eiffel Tower Illumination Project
Location: The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Time: September 13 and 14, 2018 (Thu and Fri), sundown to 1:00 a.m.
Sponsors: The Japan Foundation
Japonism 2018 Eiffel Tower Illumination Committee
Special cooperation: The City of Paris, Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel
Planners/Producers: Motoko Ishii and Akari Lisa Ishii
Execution Design/Production: Motoko Ishii and Motoko Ishii Lighting Design
Akari Lisa Ishii and I.C.O.N., Paris