The Japanese Artist Who Launched Flowers Into Outer Space
Japanese artist Makoto Azuma is known for creating poetic botanical sculptures, but the medium in which he works most intimately is time. “Flowers are about something more than just beauty. If you just wanted to see something beautiful, you can go out into nature,” he says in Flower Punk, an award-winning film about his work and life, now available for viewing as part of the The New Yorker Documentary series. In just under 30 minutes, director Alison Klayman captures the artist as he creates spectacular arrangements, and sets about photographing and filming their ephemerality as they wilt and decay, imparting the beauty of age. Azuma and his team even send their blooms into space, as with his 2014 piece “Exobiotanica.” Rigging a camera and a flower bomb to a weather balloon, documenting his terrestrial creation as it soars through the stratosphere, the artist simply wanted to “find out what kind of phenomenon [would occur] if we put plants where they don’t normally exist.” The result is, in a word, transcendent.