“Windows are one of the most important elements in architecture. They function to connect the outside and inside worlds, opening and closing as required. They are made of transparent glass so they allow us to see the world outside and inside through them, yet the glass itself acts as a physical shield, offering us protection from the elements and harm.”
Igarashi Tarō (Director of the Windowology exhibition)
Windowology is a multidisciplinary research project conducted by the Window Research Institute*, a Tokyo-based foundation dedicated to the development of architectural culture. Curated under the direction of architectural historian and critic Igarashi Tarō, the exhibition features architectural models, drawings, photographs, film, manga, books, crafts, environmental statistics/information and quotes as well as original artwork by renowned installation and performance artist, Tsuda Michiko.
Explore 10 Themes
The Windowology exhibition examines the role of windows as cultural objects and the ways in which they frame our vision and give us unique perspectives on the world. It explores ten themes: Windows on Craft, Windows on the Environment, Windows on Stories, Windows on Film, Windows on the Teahouse, Windows on Manga, Windows on How We Live Now, Windows on Motion, Windows on Words, and Windows on Art.
N. America Exhibition Debut
Based on a 2017 Tokyo exhibition that celebrated Windowology's 10th anniversary, this traveling exhibition was re-designed for an international audience with the specific intention of conveying the fascination with windows that has existed in Japanese architecture from the past to the present day. In Japanese traditional architectural design, the timber post-and-beam structures allow for the transformation of space both indoors and outdoors by removing fixtures between columns or allowing them to be opened and closed using various different types of windows and screens. Japanese teahouses, in contrast, are conceived of as closed boxes that are punctuated with an assortment of openings, and for this they hold a special place in Japanese architectural history. An installation of a historical teahouse built to scale is included in the exhibition.
Meher McArthur, Art and Cultural Director of JAPAN HOUSE
Windowology | The World through Windows
Igarashi Tarō, Exhibition Director
Though developed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this exhibition seems extraordinarily pertinent now.
According to Igarashi, “During times of crisis, windows reveal much about culture and humanity. Today, as we restrict our activities and stay in our homes for longer spans of time, we spend many more hours in front of the "windows" of the new era, our personal computing devices. These devices offer hope in an alternative state of connectivity. ”Igarashi adds, “But actual windows have also played a unique roll during this crisis in ways that often express the richness of the world’s diverse cultures. People have sung opera to each other across balconies and shared messages of gratitude with medical workers through windows.”
Over the past months, we have been keenly reminded of the role that windows play – in good times and bad - in connecting us with the surrounding landscape and our neighbors in the physical world. Windowology offers visitors a rare glimpse into the unique functions of windows in Japanese culture, while also inspiring deeper contemplation of the many ways that windows inform and impact our own lives.
#Windowology Social Media Activation
We are sharing a variety of #Windowology perspectives on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels with photographer and videographer partners. We invite everyone to share their #Windowology perspectives with us throughout the exhibition duration!
Our first partnership is with Rania Matar. Matar was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. in 1984. As a Lebanese-born American artist and mother, her cross-cultural experience and personal narrative inform her photography. Matar’s work has been widely exhibited in museums worldwide, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Carnegie Museum of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and more.
Camilla, Newton, Massachusetts, 2020
I had been photographing Camilla's older sister and her family for about an hour. Camilla who is 4 years old didn't want to cooperate or be part of it. When I was about to leave, she stole the show by throwing herself at the window, and I was scrambling to get my camera back out. I love how the flowers and the greenery were reflected on her, symbolically making it seem as if she is standing in a bed of pink flowers while in reality she is confined inside.
Marie, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2020
Marie reached out to me when she saw that I had been making portraits during Covid-19 through windows. We couldn’t have coffee or chat – we had to connect through a barrier (window) but I love how the outside was reflected into the window. If I moved a bit one way or the other I would see my own reflection on her, connecting us metaphorically. It felt as if she was outside and inside at the same time.
Lucy, Boston, Massachusetts, 2020
Kids were all home during the early days of Covid-19 and the lockdown. Families were home together, with kids being homeschooled and parents working from home and playing teachers. It was important for me in this project to include families, kids, and a variety of age groups as we were all in this together. This particular image expresses what kids are going through stuck inside for days on end – boredom and restlessness as they cannot go outside.
Leyla, Somerville, Massachusetts, 2020
Leyla is the daughter of a friend of mine. She is fourteen, on lockdown and studying from home. They live on the second floor of a two family house and I photographed her at the front door through the glass pane. The lighting was beautiful and her face seemed to be tying the whole outside together through the reflection.
Julianna, Lynn, Massachusetts, 2020
Julianna and Christian were supposed to get married in April. Their wedding kept getting postponed because of Covid-19. I suggested to that I photograph her through the window in her wedding gown. I couldn’t post the photograph or share it because she didn’t want Christian to see the gown before they got married. They eventually got married on Labor Day, so now the photo is out in the world!
Ruth, Boston, Massachusetts, 2020
Ruth is 10 years old originally from Ethiopia and adopted since she was a baby into a loving family in Boston. She is composed and her eyes wide and piercing despite the chaos of the reflection of the leaves around her. She is biting her lip, a gesture her mom said she did since she was a baby. The leaves outside and in the reflection are framing her beautifully, blurring the sense of inside and outside.
Marina, Brookline, Massachusetts, 2020
Marina is a friend of mine whom I had photographed a few times in the past. She had cancer and I photographed during a chemotherapy session. She always has an incredible Diva-like presence in the photographs, whether she is going through chemotherapy, or being locked down during Covid-19. I love that she never lost her sense of self no matter what is happening in her life, and that she dressed up for the shoot – elegantly filling the window frame.
Minty, Kayla, Leyah, and Layla, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2020
Minty, the mother, is here with her 3 daughters ages 9 through 16. I showed up at their window and met them for the first time all huddled together greeting me from across the window. It was absolutely breathtaking how they posed themselves very naturally. It felt that during Covid, many families got closer and learned to live together again in very close quarters with kids and parents all stuck at home.
Sloan and Spencer, Newport, Rhode Island, 2020
This is a bit later during Covid-19 as can be seen by the lush greenery. My favorite photo of the shoot happened when they (and I) thought we were done! Spencer on the right was stretching and didn’t know she was in the photograph, and Sloan was distracted by what was going on inside and was calling her mother. That was it and I quickly reacted by making that photograph.
Nadav, Brookline, Massachusetts, 2020
I was photographing Nadav’s mother when the sun started setting and I saw him in the background (inside) wearing the blue shirt that matched the sky. I asked him to get closer and the sense of inside and outside was blurred with the outside reflected onto the glass, and his face partially obscured by the reflections. I am outside looking in but we are able to communicate and connect, and create art together despite the physical barrier between us.
Amy, Grace, and Harper, Newton, Massachusetts, 2020
Amy is the mother of Grace, 17 and Harper, 9. The family was all quarantining at home during Covid-19. Grace was a senior in high school and had to forego all the celebratory milestones. Harper was 9, being homeschooled. I loved how they are all somehow physically connected. The outside is reflected onto the glass where one can almost think they are outside. In a way I am looking at what they are looking at outside.
Window Research Institute Brochures
Available here is a selection of seven brochures for download which bring together collections of specific research spanning the domains of history, language, design, human behavior, anthropology, and even manga in relation to the window. The breadth of this research speaks to the fact that windows, in addition to being key elements in a building’s design, are closely tied to human behavior and reflect our social, cultural and technological diversity.
Please enjoy these glimpses into the deeper research of ‘Windowology’.
Vol 1 | The History of Windows
Vol 2 | Linguistics of the Window
Vol 3 | Transition of Kikugetsutei; Equipment In Between
Vol 4 | Window Behaviorology
Vol 5 | Window Dialectology
Vol 6 | Window Ethnology
Vol 7 | Windows in Manga
About the Window Research Institute
The Window Research Institute is an incorporated foundation based in Tokyo dedicated to the development of architectural culture. The Institute advances knowledge concerning windows and architecture, through research grants, publications and public events. The research project ʻwindowologyʼ was launched by the Institute based on the belief that “windows represent civilization and culture”. Over the past 10 years, the institute has been accumulating research findings through conducting collaborative studies with universities and researchers both in and outside Japan. For more information please visit the website: madoken.jp/en/, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Organizer | JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles
Planning & Supervision | Window Research Institute
Special Assistance | Yōsuitei Preservation Society, Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum, Horiguchi Sutemi Archives
Exhibition Director | Igarashi Tarō
Exhibition Assistant | Shibata Naomi
Architects | Nishizawa Tezzo, Sato Kumaya (Tezzo Nishizawa Architects)
Graphic Designers | Okamoto Ken, Konno Tatsuya (Ken Okamoto Design Office)
Project Manager | Komiyama Yoh
Exhibition Production | TOKYO STUDIO
Public Relations | Koike Miki, Aizawa Mie (HOW)
Windows on Art | Installation: Tsuda Michiko, Software Development: Ito Yuya
Windows on Craft | Research: Yoshiharu Tsukamoto Laboratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology
Windows on the Environment | Research: Kodama Yuichiro + Naoshi Kaneko Laboratory, University of Shiga Prefecture
Windows on Motion | Research: Komiyama Yoh, Film: Okazaki Tomohiro, Sound Recording & Analysis: Onodera Yui, Matsuo Kenjiro (invisible designs lab)
Windows on Stories | Research: Hara Hiroshi + Taro Igarashi Laboratory, Tohoku University, Illustrations: Shinano Hattaro
Windows on the Teahouse | Design: Tezzo Nishizawa Architects + Ken Okamoto Design Office, Production: TOKYO STUDIO, Photographer: Ota Takumi, Film: qomunelab
Windows on Words | Research: Taro Igarashi Laboratory, Tohoku University
Windows on Manga | Research: Taro Igarashi Laboratory, Tohoku University
Windows on Film | Research (films): Norihito Nakatani Seminar, Waseda University + Seo Kenji
Windows on How We Live Now | Photography: Jérémie Souteyrat
Text | Igarashi Tarō
Edits | Shibata Naomi
Translation | Machida Gen
*Japanese names in this exhibition are written in the traditional Japanese order, with the family name first and personal name last.