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Tokyo-Based AMKK's Latest Radical Exploration Of The World Of Flowers

November, 2021

The “floral experimentations” continue at AMKK — acronym for Azuma Makoto Flower Laboratory — the Tokyo-based botanical art collective co-founded by flower artist Azuma Makoto and photographer Shiinoki Shunsuke, alongside their florist studio and store Jardins des Fleurs. Their latest radical approach to the investigation of flowers led them to photographing flowers through X-ray and CT-scan, revealing their skeletal structure in such detail akin to a human body. Yet, plants do not have a skeleton. They maintain their shape and structure because of a rigid cell wall that has sufficient tensile strength to support the plant in the way a skeleton does for a human or animal. AMKK’s aim in creating the series was to reveal their essence of flowers which we usually do not see, placing particular importance on their foundation — their roots.

The new project by AMKK, titled “X-Ray Flowers”, presents a unique capture of flowers through the imaging technique of radiography to create a series from a scientific angle, unveiling a literal transparency and complexity to the living forms. Tokyo-based Champ Editor Joanna Kawecki caught up with flower artist Azuma Makoto to detail more on the extraordinary project.

AMKK(東信, 花樹研究所)は、フラワーアーティストの東 信と写真家の椎木 俊介が花屋のジャルダン・デ・フルールを営む傍らで設立した、東京を拠点とする植物アート集団である。


このAMKKの新しいプロジェクト「X-Ray Flowers」は、放射線技師に科学的な角度から撮影するよう協力を要請し、文字通り生き物の透明性と複雑さを明らかにした。フラワーアーティストの東 信のこの類まれなプロジェクトの軌跡を辿った。


Joanna: What instigated the idea to create this series?

Azuma Makoto: I undertook this series to explore for not only the beauty on surface of flowers and plants, but also the essence of them which is usually invisible to us.


東 信: 花の表面的な美しさだけではなく、普段目には見えない花や植物の本質について追求してみたいという探究心がこのシリーズのはじまりです。


Which type of machine did you use for the x-rays?

Because of the usage of radiation, I did a photoshoot at the special shooting place under the supervision of the specialist for radiography. People are usually not allowed to enter that place, so the atmosphere was very tense.




How did you decide which plants or flowers would be x-rayed?

I selected a wide variety of flowers and plants from the ones we are familiar with and see every day to the others which are so unique that we cannot image the inside structure of them from the outside.

       どのような基準でどの種類の植物をx-ray flowersに使用するか決めたのでしょうか。



Why did you decide to include the entirety of some plants, including their roots?

Since roots are buried underground, we usually do not see them. They, however, play an important role of sustaining flowers’ lives and are the origin of supporting the strength of live flowers, so I had the interest in visualizing them. By visualizing the roots, I would like people to know that the roots are very delicate but support the entire plants by absorbing necessary nutrients, and also would like them to feel “a life” itself by showing the part that is essential for plants to act as living creatures.




Through your images, you capture the skeletal structure of plants as a living thing. Just as we see the x-ray’s human bodies, we can understand plants better as a living thing through your images. Was this one of your intentions?

I appreciate that you understand humanity and plants are both living creatures through my artworks. I think a human’s skeleton is the same as a vessel and veins of flowers, and skin is what covers them. I created this artwork with the hope that there are things in common between humanity and flowers even though they have a different appearance. I would like people to realize how precious flowers’ lives are.



Behind The Scenes, X-RAY FLOWERS © AMKK

Were there any challenges with x-raying and photographing the flowers?

Since the internal structure of plants are completely not visible from the outside, I couldn’t anticipate what would be captured if I photographed them through an X-ray. It was as if being in a constant battle with an unknown world. I sought for the best way to express the delicacy of a plants’ interior but also their strength and resilience at the same time.



Behind The Scenes, X-RAY FLOWERS © AMKK

Did you discover any new future ideas through this series? 

By taking this opportunity to x-ray the internal structure of plants, I was able to learn a lot and feel the profundity of plants and flowers. As a person who uses flowers to express my artworks, I felt that the range of my expression was dramatically expanded by knowing about the flowers from the aspect of science. I would like to create artworks that express the flowers and plants as precious living creatures on a variety of scales, both microscopic and macroscopic point of views, and share them with the people all over the world.



Behind The Scenes, X-RAY FLOWERS © AMKK

Images: Courtesy AMKK
Interview & Text: Joanna Kawecki

November, 2021