I want to be a shell

video installation
33 min. 43 sec.

a video screen installed under a shell logo hung from the ceiling, a motor to shake a lamp, a swinging shadow, music sheet and its stand, karaoke instruments such as maracas and tambourine

Installation photo from the exhibition Elsewheres Within Here curated by Jo-Lene Ong at Framer Framed, Amsterdam [2019]. © Maarten Van Haaff, Framer Framed.
still from the video



Upon hearing the story of how an ordinary Japanese seashell transformed into one of the most familiar commercial symbols in the world, I set out to retrace its journey. Central to my narrative of the shell is how it lost its shadow – as the logo became more modern it transformed from a shapely shell to a flat image. Ironically, when Japanese were learning Western painting techniques they added shadow and shading to their traditional flat images. Along the way, the shell became my shell, carrying my personal reflections on cultural (mis)translations as a Japanese person who has settled in the Netherlands. My confused and confusing attempts to return the shell’s shadow, lost during the voyage of industrial design, speaks of our complicity in the capitalist world we live in and the futility of claiming fixed origins.  



— Installation view

— Stills from the video