Sometimes with interactive art, things don’t work out. You have to be at the right place at the right time or things just don’t come together as planned.
That is the case with our final Winter Stations installation, I See You Ashiyu. Conceived by Asuka Kono and Rachel Salmela, it is located just west of the Balmy Beach Club. Unfortunately, unless you visit when the piece is active, you probably won’t know it’s an art installation.
That’s because I See You Ashiyu is supposed to be an experiential piece of art. If you go on a weekday, like I did, twice, you miss out on a big piece of what makes this installation special.
I See You Ashiyu is meant to recreate the experience of going to a Japanese hot spring. The installation heats water and then sends it into a trough where flagging beach wanderers can sit and warm their cold, weary feet. It is meant to not only transform frozen tootsies into warm ones but, by providing a place to gather and socialize, it can also provide a sense of relief to the isolation that people can feel during the winter months. A place where strangers transform into friends.
The idea is so appealing, especially to someone as winter adverse as I am. But here’s the rub: it actually has to be running in order for you to fully enjoy it. Without the warm water to draw people in, without the interplay between visitors, this is nothing more than a bench, a stove, and woodpile on the beach.
If you are looking for a reprieve from the cold, do yourself a favour and hit up I See You Ashiyu on the weekend. Maybe you’ll come home with more than just warm feet.
Winter Stations runs from February 20th to March 27th, 2017. Follow the boardwalk east starting at Woodbine beach.
The title for this piece comes from Robert Frost’s poem, Tae a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough
But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
And yes, this is where Steinbeck got the title for his novel, Of Mice and Men.