Mitate Flower Assignment

In school, we were introduced to the Japanese philosophy and method of mitate. As I understand mitate now, it means something that refers to something else that is not present. It wakens an association within us. It can be a form, material, movement, and concept. For example, in a poem rain could represent tears because they are both water drops falling.

Our assignment in this three-day course was to make a mitate flower out of paper. The brief was “Make an object that feels like a flower but that does not look like a flower.”

Our professor for the course online from Kyoto.
My first two attempts.

Here I worked with the word swaying and tried to make the leaves and then the stem move in such a manner. Swaying is a unique property of a flower. We were supposed to apply vibration or movement to the flower as well and have the vibration/movement make the mitate flower feel even more like a flower by the vibration/movement.

My third and last attempt.

For this final mitate flower attempt I made the stem thinner so that when vibration was applied to the platform it moved.

I had an unusual and beautiful experience making the final mitate flower. I had one day to make it. During the entire day I worked on a different project and I did not approach the mitate flower until late at night. All-day I had an imminent feeling of giving up, a sense of loss and giving in, letting go, and falling into whatever was beneath me. Despite this heaviness, I kept on moving.

When I finally sat down at my desk it was pitch dark outside. I told myself that, whatever turns up in front of me will do, it will be what I hand in tomorrow morning. This is not how I usually talk with myself. It is rather the opposite. To my surprise, I made an object. I also got an idea for the video part of the assignment and began to giggle.

I did not plan nor force. I did not push. I made something anyway. I am so happy that I have had this experience and I will remind myself of this day during the days to come, that I did have a day where I Did, made, with less anxiety than usual and a bit of convincing too to trust that whatever I make will be enough.

The following day I got the feedback that “It feels like a flower” and that it was elegant. This was more than what I had hoped for. 🙂

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