Mar 01,2019. UPDATE

Departing on a Journey on the Tongue: Ayako Suwa’s Interactive Exploration of the Senses Reception Party Report

2.26 Tue 19:00 START

On February 26th, 2019, INTERSECT BY LEXUS – TOKYO in Minami-Aoyama hosted a dazzling reception party to celebrate the opening of the exhibition “Journey on the Tongue,” which runs until March 15th. Resembling a trip taken through a world of tastes, “Journey on the Tongue” is the latest creation by food artist Ayako Suwa that offers a unique experience aspiring to restore complexity to the ways we sense food and go beyond relying only on what we can see.

The food experience starts by selecting one of twelve fragrances. Guests are then guided to a special device that hones the five senses and takes them on an incredible sensory journey. “It is like walking and swimming with your sense of taste, relying on an intuitively chosen aroma. What kind of journey will you depart on? This is what I want guests to experience—a whole other world that expands from inside their mouths,” says Suwa. “I am highlighting the value of food that is not merely a source of nutrition or energy, but rather its value as something that you can’t quite grasp, as something that exists yet you cannot see. We have recently become more and more reliant on the visual aspects of food, not least for the initial impact a dish makes on someone. I hope this event will help switch on a different kind of sense, something more primitive.”

Delving into a new kind of sensory experience that starts from the tongues and mouths of guests, this exhibition is perfectly attuned with the emphasis LEXUS places on craftsmanship and the senses. In order to realize its concepts more profoundly, Suwa also developed the event in close collaboration with two other artists. The device was created by the media artist Yasuaki Kakehi, while the sound was overseen by evala, further enhancing the uniqueness of the experience.

“My research involves using technology and materials to expand experiences and inquire into how people sense,” explains Kakehi. “I hope guests enjoy the unique ‘taste’ experience on offer at this event,” evala says, “which shifts freely depending on the contexts and senses of the individual. I am attempting to amplify an experience through music, based on the highly conceptual words given to me by Ayako Suwa. To borrow a metaphor, this is like the music you might hear in a dream. The four-minute journey where you are one with the music opens up the senses, becoming a series of inspirations that elicit the imagination from within the body.”

At the reception party, performers wandered around the venue dressed in stunning costumes created by SOMARTA designer Tamae Hirokawa. Using handheld devices, the performers served guests with original fire-, flower-, and creature-inspired tastes that formed a short voyage of the senses. Guests also enjoyed two types of cocktails with themes of space, light, and rain. In this way, the many attendees at the party found their imaginations stirred by the dishes and drink, readying them for the sensory journey they would undertake through the exhibition.

During the exhibition, guests also have the opportunity to purchase part of the experience in the form of special sets called Taste of Journey (500 yen per flavor, incl. tax). Available in Freedom & Transcendence, Wildness & Meditation, or Craziness & Rapture versions, these flavors allow guests to take the journey away with them to continue exploring. “This food product lets you relive an experience that remains only in the memory,” explains Suwa. “Start to eat and, no matter where you are, you will depart on a new journey through the fragrances, scents, and flavors that change from moment to moment.”

Watching the guests trying the food experience, Suwa was newly inspired. “The guests were initially surprised and hesitant, but it was striking to see them actually try the experience. When facing an unknown experience, people responded with their instincts, rather than reason. Watching this and seeing their curiosity stirred reconfirmed for me what is so fascinating about our senses.” And her final message for guests? “Above all, I want people just to come and try this for themselves.”

Exhibition Information
Journey on the Tongue
Venue: INTERSECT BY LEXUS – TOKYO (4-21-26 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo)
Dates: February 27th – March 15th, 2019 / 12:00–19:00


Ayako Suwa
Artist / Director, food creation
Born in Ishikawa Prefecture, Ayako Suwa graduated from Kanazawa College of Art and launched food creation in 2006. In 2008, she held her first solo exhibition, “sensuous food, emotional tastes,” at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, presenting examples of food that can be savored like human feelings. She has since created “guest restaurant” performances, the dining experience “Journey on the table,” and food installations at venues in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Singapore, Paris, Hong Kong, Taipei, Berlin, Barcelona, and more. In 2014–15, she oversaw “Taste of Curiosity – Museum of Curiosity,” an exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa commemorating the museum’s tenth anniversary, in partnership with the University of Tokyo’s The University Museum. Creating food art that explores the human instincts of desire, curiosity, and evolution, Suwa presents new values for food that are neither gourmet tastes, nutrition, nor an energy source.

Yasuaki Kakehi
Interactive media researcher, media artist
Born in Kyoto in 1979, Yasuaki Kakehi earned a PhD in interdisciplinary information studies from the University of Tokyo in 2007. After working at such places as Keio University’s Shonan Fujisawa Campus, plaplax ltd., and MIT Media Lab, he established a new research lab from 2018 as an associate professor at the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, University of Tokyo. Using cutting-edge technology, he pioneers physically interactive forms of expression that expand human senses and perceptions as well as the characteristics of physical materials. In addition to his engineering research output, he has exhibited widely in Japan and abroad at Ars Electronica, SIGGRAPH, and more, and his many accolades include the ACM CHI Best Paper Award (2017), Good Design Best 100 (2012), and the 2014 Commendation for Science and Technology (Young Scientists’ Prize) by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. His recent publications related to the theme of tactility dealt with in this exhibition include A Beginner’s Guide to Tactile Fun: Coming into Touch with the World as if for the First Time (Asahi Shuppan).

Musician, sound artist
A groundbreaking electronic music artist working in Japan and internationally, evala uses 3D (spatial) audio systems as new kinds of musical instruments. He launched the See by Your Ears project in 2016 to create new kinds of auditory experiences. Constructing phenomena where sound behaves dynamically like a living creature, evala develops what he calls “spatial composition” as a new means of making music. His major work includes Otocyon megalotis (Sonar+D, Barcelona, Spain 2017), Our Muse (Asia Culture Center, Gwangju, South Korea, 2018), and Acoustic Vessel Odyssey (SXSW, Austin, 2018), a 576-channel sound installation using the Sonic Surf VR spatial audio technology suite by Sony. He also works as a sound producer for stage and film productions as well as public spaces, employing a wide range of cutting-edge technology systems.

Tamae Hirokawa
Designer / Creative Director, SOMA DESIGN
Tamae Hirokawa founded SOMA DESIGN in 2006, when she also launched the brand SOMARTA and showed at Tokyo Collection. She launched her Skin Series of bodywear, exploring new possibilities for clothing. With beautiful lace graphics, constructive clothing, and highly accomplished accessory-like art pieces, her fantastical and dramatic fashion show presentations utilizing sound and video visuals have attracted acclaim at home and abroad. She won the Newcomer Shiseido Encouragement Prize at the 25th Mainichi Fashion Grand Prix and is a member of the Asian Couture Federation. In 2017, the signature SOMARTA item Skin Series was added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.