Making the Glass House disappear.

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The Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Conn. Photo: Gwendolyn Horton

During the annual Glass House Summer Party, we were treated to Fujiko Nakaya’s art exhibition Veil. On view through November 30, this project “produces an opaque atmosphere to meet the building’s extreme transparency and temporal effects that complement its timelessness.” Huh?

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Photo: Gwendolyn Horton

Here’s my unscholarly interpretation: Nakaya is using fog – something that normally hides things – to give shape to a transparent house. It’s as if Johnson drew his house in invisible ink and Nakaya’s fog is the “black light” needed to reveal the secret message.

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Photo: Matthew Crucius

Another way of seeing Nakaya’s project is that she’s destroying the shape of the Glass House by turning it into a cloud, as if to ask, “Which is more fleeting, architecture or fog?”

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Photo: Gwendolyn Horton

Unfortunately, I was there on a windy day, so the effect was more of a house on fire than a vanishing act. The wind, however, was mesmerizing in how it ebbed and flowed, leading the fog in an indecisive dance, embracing it one moment and pushing it away the next. “Fog makes visible things become invisible and invisible things – like wind – become visible,” says the artist.

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Photo: Matthew Crucius

To make the fog, fresh water is pumped at high pressure through 600 nozzles that surround the house. Nakaya completed her first fog sculpture in 1970, and she has since continued to create them around the world. Her father, a physicist who made artificial snowflakes, inspired her interest in cloud-like forms. Could we be treated to the Glass House covered in snow at next year’s Summer Party? Only the fog knows.

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Bertoia Chairs and a Richard Schultz Petal Table enjoying the show. Photo: Matthew Crucius

To schedule a tour of the Glass House, go to theglasshouse.org.