A Message from the Exhibition Director
The pandemic which has engulfed the world in 2020 has fundamentally changed our lives. Spaces for people to gather were once desirable, but now, since all humans have become a potential threat to each other, this architectural assumption has been turned on its head. Even the schedule and design of this Windowology exhibition had to be revised. It has also been necessary to renew our thinking about the important architectural element called the window. The window is a means to connect the outside and inside worlds in a society where people are going out less and shutting themselves up in their homes. Window glass is transparent so we can see through it, but it also acts as a physical shield. Also, windows have two contradictory functions of opening and closing to the outside – a metaphor for our current societal conundrum of whether to resume economic activity or prioritize safety by continuing to lock down. During times of crisis, windows reveal much about culture and humanity. After the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 and its huge tsunami that destroyed many towns, the Window Research Institute engaged in a broad discussion about windows. In an art exhibition entitled “Toaru Mado” (A Certain Window), created in Sendai in response to the disaster, numerous photographs of the affected areas taken from indoors through windows were exhibited with quotes of the residents talking about the changed landscape. Those windows had witnessed what happened before and after the disaster and the reconstruction. Today, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been staying longer at home as our activities are restricted. We spend many more hours in front of the “windows” of the new era, namely, the personal computers whose screens link us from our homes to distant worlds. At the same time, we are keenly reminded of the role that conventional windows play in connecting us with the surrounding landscape and our neighbors in the physical world. In fact, windows have a unique role during a crisis, enabling people to share hope and gratitude: singing opera to neighbors from a window-side balcony, sending messages of thanks to medical staff through the window, passing things through the window to maintain social distance, and other such actions. Windows have always evoked different behavior in people of different regions and cultures, and today, such diversity is still recognizable amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope that the Windowology exhibition will give visitors a chance to re-imagine the possibilities of windows.