Fish are pretty. Water is pretty. Throw the two together and you usually have a pretty aquarium. The problem is that it kind of ends there. Aquariums are pretty, sure, but they usually don’t quite reach the realm of true aquatic art. There are a few exceptions, but finding an artistic aquarium is actually quite rare.
So, what’s the difference? Does your aquarium count as being art? Well, it’s hard to define something so nebulous, but what we can do is take a look at the Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall “Art Aquarium” exhibit in Tokyo. The exhibit was open for about a month last year and showed of some of the most ornate, elegantly beautiful aquariums you’ll ever see.
I’m a huge nerd, so I see this tank and I immediately think “d12,” but the artist was probably aiming for a gem aesthetic. The various faces of this tank are reminiscent of the facets of a gem. Each surface provides a different viewing angle for the goldfish lounging inside of the tank. This unique feature allows you to view fish from the side, from the top, from below, and from two or three other angles all at the same time.
The best word to describe this tank is “elegant.” I looks like something that you’d find as part of a wedding dinner party centerpiece in place of an ice sculpture. Probably one of the most interesting things about this piece is that it plays with the viewer’s expectations and our understanding of physics. You can shape an aquarium however you want, but once you add waterfalls you can’t help but get a little bit anxious. What keeps the fish from falling out of the tank? There’s sort of a tension between the calming beauty of the tank and the slight nagging fear in the back of you mind that the fish are in peril.
Ranging from a cool blue to a warm red, this aquarium is a bit like a color spectrum. The fish look completely different based on where they are in the tank — so much so that they don’t even look like the same species. The ones on the left are almost completely colorless, while the ones on the right look like your typical red and white goldfish.
I adore aquariums like this because they totally push the envelope on popular stereotypes about aquariums. There’s more to aquariums than blocky cubes with lava rocks on the bottom. Your aquarium can be as expressive and as unique as you are.