Thursday Salute to Originals: Salt Shaking

For most of us, a salt shaker is simply a container for food flavoring. Present in almost any restaurant establishment, salt can be casually – almost thoughtlessly – sprinkled across a dish and placed back in its mundane home within the condiment holder. This ritual does not generally carry deep meaning, nor does the object of the salt shaker itself or the pattern with which it falls onto the food. Today we discuss the work of a Japanese artist that takes the salt shaker out of the culinary arena and into the realm of ethereal artwork.

Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto creates sculptural patterns of salt. Yamamoto spends painstaking hours, over 45 hours in this case, to craft an intricate pattern of salt pieces in a similar process as drawing a bead of caulk. Juxtaposed against the backdrop of a medieval French castle, the “Floating Garden” piece is particularly delicate. Lines swirl together in a pattern that recalls lacework or cellular structure. The work has been interpreted as representing fragments of memories. When viewed in context of its architectural surroundings, the work can also be categorized as compulsive, complementary, and organic.



And while the “Floating Garden” piece celebrates a more organic motif, it is not Yamamoto’s only work. His other piece “Labryinth” utilizes a more geometric approach.  Zig zag lines construct an intricate maze that fades and bleeds into a heaping mound of salt.

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Why salt? In Japanese tradition, salt symbolizes life, purification, and a celebration of both life and death. As the artist describes:
“drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings. What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory …”


We salute Yamamoto for choosing a beautifully simple medium, and for undoubtedly taking the phrase “attention to detail” to an entirely new level. The process to build each and every minute detail would require an unwavering focus, and the artist reports entering a hypnotic meditative state. Now let’s just hope a strong wind doesn’t kick up and sweep away these meaningful lines!

Sources: Design Boom, Yatzer