Arranged in glass cases in the lower level exhibition space of Japan Society, 555 works of art stand, beckoning visitors to investigate their swirling colors. The plastic rectangular blocks are “bits,” the fruits of the labor by the young men of three, an artist collective from Fukushima. For the month of July, three worked in one room of Japan Society Gallery, creating 555 works of art to pay homage to the five boroughs of New York and to mark their debut in the city. Each bit represents one character from Japanese manga, anime, and American pop culture that was assembled and then melted. (Read more about the collective and their creative process here.)
There is a playful element of interactivity in the exhibition, three is a magic number 7, which runs through Sunday, October 13. Challenge yourself to identify each of the 55 bits. There are no labels giving descriptions of who each character is, so if you can’t tell who the melted character is, use the QR Reader app on your smartphone, and within seconds, you’ll have the information.
The bit on the far right of the first row of the photo below is the first of the 555 figures, Cagalli Yua-Asuha from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny.
Scanning the corresponding QR code sends you to this link to three’s website, where you’ll discover the character’s identity. Descriptions are in English and Japanese.
It’s amazing how they retain their features after being melted. This is Kyon’s sister from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, a series of light novels by Nagani Tanizawa, before three got their hands on her, dragged her from Japan to New York, cut off her head, and melted her.
Here she is now, at her post on the front row, far left. She looks remarkably well, considering!
Fifty-five of the bits are icons of American pop culture. You can probably tell that the far-right creature on the back row is Sponge Bob Square Pants, and the guy to the left is Mike from Monsters, Inc.
Some aren’t as easy to recognize. What about the giant brown and blue bit in the center of the photo below? It’s actually a familiar character in American pop culture.
It’s everyone’s favorite Reese’s Pieces-eating, home-phoning alien, ET!
If you like to play with your art, three is a magic number 7 encourages you to do that. Stop by Japan Society before October 13.