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Vapour City
Takeshi Ishiguro - Smoke Ring

For the 50th anniversary of the International House of Japan in Roppongi in 2002, Takeshi Ishiguro “created a machine which pops out smoke rings automatically from a box which is placed in the large garden - every 5 minutes. The smoke shapes into a perfect circle first and gets transformed immediately depending on the wind etc. When there is no wind, it goes straight up to the sky keeping its shape until it finally disappears.”

You can watch the smoke rings in action on the artist's website.

And for more about the machine and Ishiguro's other works, you can read his interview with PingMag.

Takeshi Ishiguro - Smoke Ring

Meanwhile, what Takeshi Ishiguro should do next is construct more of these machines and place them all over Rome. Then on a cloudless and windless day, they will huff and puff away the complete text of Ovid's Metamorphoses — the epic poem translated into vapourous morse code.

At Piazza del Popolo, for instance, you will be able decipher the passage wherein Zeus turns himself into a cloud so that he could seduce the maiden Io without his eternally vengeful consort Hera detecting their tryst.

Elsewhere, at the more tranquil Giardino del Quirinale, you can read about how the Centaurs came into being from a curious coupling between King Ixion and Nephele, a cloud nymph who Zeus had created in the shape of Hera.

Everywhere churches, gardens and palazzos are wondrously oozing with smoke. The Eternal City seemingly dematerializing into air.

Takeshi Ishiguro - Smoke Ring

You wake up one morning in an unknown hotel in an unknown city. You try to remember, but their names have escaped you completely. The previous night's drunken revelry has fried up a bunch of short-term memory cells.

Sensing that a rare opportunity for some topographical experiment has just presented itself, you decide not to ask anyone where you are. Instead, you go out for a walk to find out for yourself, studying the native flora, indigenous architecture, and vernacular street patterns.

It's urban forensics! Or CSI: Landscape Architecture.

But unfortunately, there's this thick fog blanketing the entire city. It's hampering your terrestrial sleuthing. It's hard to see anything at all, let alone the street signs. There's a clearing now and then, but it's zero visibility most of the time.

Could this be London? Paris in April? Mexico City chocking on smog on a Tuesday? Los Angeles meteorologically held hostage by Geoff Manaugh? It's really difficult to be certain.

Takeshi Ishiguro - Smoke Ring

Later on, you begin to notice that there's a pattern to the way the vaporous voids and non-voids pass you by. It's some sort of an encrypted message. You know this, because you were once in the Boy Scouts of America and had learnt from their field manuals how to interpret morse code and Native American smoke signals. You even earned a merit badge for it.

And so you go into the nearest park. You find a bench, sit, and get comfortable. Then you begin decoding.

After 13 hours of manic translating, fingers blistering, bloodied, whole hands cramping, you read what you've got written down:

its slow erosions of peninsulas and islands, its persistent formation of homothetic islands, peninsulas and downwardtending promontories: its alluvial deposits: its weight and volume and density: its imperturbability in lagoons and highland tarns: its gradation of colours in the torrid and temperate and frigid zones: its vehicular ramifications in continental lakecontained streams and confluent oceanflowing rivers with their tributaries and transoceanic currents, gulfstream, north and south equatorial courses: its violence in seaquakes, waterspouts, Artesian wells, eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts: its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs and latent humidity, revealed by rhabdomantic or hygrometric instruments and exemplified by the well by the hole in the wall at Ashtown gate, saturation of air, distillation of dew: the simplicity of its composition, two constituent parts of hydrogen with one constituent part of oxygen: its healing virtues: its buoyancy in the waters of the Dead Sea: its persevering penetrativeness in runnels, gullies, inadequate dams, leaks on shipboard: its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon: its metamorphoses as vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, snow, hail: its strength in rigid hydrants: its variety of forms in loughs and bays and gulfs and bights and guts and lagoons and atolls and archipelagos and sounds and fjords and minches and tidal estuaries and arms of sea: its solidity in glaciers, icebergs, icefloes: its docility in working hydraulic millwheels, turbines, dynamos, electric power stations, bleachworks, tanneries, scutchmills: its utility in canals, rivers, if navigable, floating and graving docks: its potentiality derivable from harnessed tides or watercourses falling from level to level: its submarine fauna and flora (anacoustic, photophobe), numerically, if not literally, the inhabitants of the globe: its ubiquity as constituting 90 percent of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon

Lo! You're in Dublin!

Today is Bloomsday!

And there are 13,000 Takeshi Ishiguro machines installed throughout the city belching out James Joyce's Ulysses. Unabridged.

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