• 05.09.11

X-Rays Of Origami Animals That Highlight Japan’s Pollution Problem [Slideshow]

Takayuki Hori makes ghostly sculptures of animals struck down by pollution in Japanese waterways.

Cute animals are the first things any beginner learns to make. Japanese artist Takayuki Hori takes his origami menagerie one step further, by imagining his paper animals as victims of urban pollution and exposing their garbage-tainted guts in X-ray-like detail. Cheerful!


Hori’s exhibition “Oritsunagumono” (which means “things folded and connected”) is intended as a critique of Japan’s polluted coastal waterways, which have nasty effects on the local fauna. The artist printed images of animal skeletons and discarded trash onto translucent sheets of paper, and then folded them into origami animal shapes. The results are a funereal, poignant j’accuse: mounted on frosted lightboxes in a dim gallery space like a ghostly tribunal, judging us in silence for our thoughtless consumption.

Hori folds each animal — both bones and trash — out of one uncut sheet of paper, so the meticulousness of his design stands as an even more subtle indictment of the pollution problem. The discarded refuse that endangers these animals and their environment is so pervasive that it’s become part of them. (“Things folded and connected,” remember?) Let’s hope Hori’s unflinching art can shock some of his audience — and not just in Japan — into being a bit more conscientious about our impact on the natural world.

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.