Sculptures from an Imagined Outer Space by Yoskay Yamamoto


Many people, including me, are fascinated by outer space. The movements of the NASA Curiosity Rover on Mars are carefully recorded and obsessively followed. The current hit Korean drama, My Love From The Star, is a rom-com involving a 400-year-old handsome alien and the female celebrity whose life he saves. Recently on Brain Pickings, Maria Popova wrote about Carl Sagan’s Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record. Sagan and his team compiled “the sounds of Earth,” dubbed it the Golden Record, and placed it on the Voyager to transmit a distilled idea of our planet to the galaxies with the possibility that other lifeforms out there might hear it.

Yoskay Yamamoto’s sculptures and carved figurines are a possible interpretation of what these outer space lifeforms might look like. The faces of Yamamoto’s pieces tend to feature small eyes barely open or shut, thin noses with high bridges, and knowing half-smiles. They are usually missing pupils, have large foreheads, and pale skin. I think Yamamoto has imagined a possible martian appearance without going in the direction of tentacles, excess body parts, and slime.


Yamamoto was born in Toba, Japan and is currently residing in Los Angeles. He has exhibited around the world and is represented by LeBasse Projects. Yamamoto’s 3D work is usually made of either ceramic, cast resin, hand carved bass wood, or a combination of those materials.


His Sideways figurines with their huge blocky heads and small bodies defy earthly physics. Their penchant to lie on the sides of their cuboid craniums suggest to me planets with different gravitational pulls and alternative forms of mobility. From what I gather, Yamamoto hasn’t clearly stated any of his figures are meant to be aliens, but there’s a distinct “not-of-this-world” vibe to his work.


The moon crops up frequently in Yamamoto’s sculptures and paintings. His versions of the moon and planets always have faces and personalities. Frequently, it’s the moon pictured as a wise confidant. I’d really like to be able to handle these carvings and castings in person; I’m certain that in hand they have a lovely sense of weight and tactility.


If these are the types of outer space life forms the Golden Record is transmitting to, I wouldn’t mind them making contact. They seem like a peaceful, contemplative species. To view more work, Yamamoto keeps a blog and has a lovely Instagram.


Images via Yoskay Yamamoto and Amy Wong

February 26, 2014 / By