'Senbazaru' is a particularly Japanese concept. It roughly translates as “intention” but it refers more specifically to the act of installing intention through the physical act of folding paper and stringing a row of origami creations together to make a chain of prayers.
The art of origami – little known fact – has spiritual origins. It was (and still is) a means to leave a prayer or blessing at Buddhist or Shinto temple. The crane in particular is a symbol of a “prayer.” Like the white dove in western culture, the white crane represents peace. The crane is also famous for its stamina in flight, thus symbolizing the idea that a prayer can travel great distances... even to heaven. One Japanese legend states that anyone who is able to fold 1000 cranes with intention will be granted a great wish.
If you attended this year’s Coachella Music Festival, you couldn’t have missed the awe-inspiring sight of Ascension – a monumental origami crane that was fashioned out of an aluminum tubes, tension wire and mesh fabric. The Crimson Collective, the artist group that created this impressive feat or engineering, were inspired by the concept of Senbazaru.
But instead of making Coachella festival–goers fold their own cranes, the Crimson Collective wanted to make a work of origami so large that people could physically (and spiritually) occupy it. When walking under the outstretched wings of Ascension people can leave their own prayers and intentions for the future.
The engineering challenges that go along with making a 50’ tall origami crane are immense, especially when you have to make the components easy to assemble and disassemble. Fortunately the Crimson Collective is composed of both artists and architects, so this lofty idea was able to take flight.
The creators of Ascension do not want to impose a specific intention for their giant crane. They want people to make their own prayers and intentions for the future. But given one notable feature of the bird – it’s brazen, techno-colored LED illumination is powered by sunlight collected during the day – it is tempting to interpret Ascension as a prayer for a future of solar-powered sustainable design, a world in which monumental feats of design and engineering are powered by the sun and a little good will.
- Karl Burkart