The Installation: Siege of Cranes
Inspired by the rich cultural heritage of the Japanese, Siege of Cranes is an installation whose purpose and message—much like the folds of the origami that created it—is layered and complex. Composed of one thousand cranes and over five hundred individual LED lights, the installation is the preamble to the exhibition When the Emperor was Divine—honoring Julie Otsuka’s eponymous novel.
Representing peace, honor, fidelity, and longevity, the crane is a national treasure of Japan, appearing in art, literature, and folklore. Although not expressly featured, mentioned or even alluded to in the book, we use origami cranes to convey a spirit of reconciliation for both the Japanese-American population and the victims of World War II. A siege of cranes is the term for a group of these large birds; a siege of paper cranes inverts the usual military reference, further linking the installation with its peaceful intent. The act of folding one thousand origami cranes ( 千羽鶴 senbazuru) has become a personal journey toward peace and goodwill. Coalescing these layered programs and rich iconography, Siege of Cranes was created through the collective effort of dozens of students, library patrons, volunteers, and staff, who donated their time and enthusiasm to the creation of a unique installation that literally illuminates, serving as a powerful visual reminder that perseverance is rewarded with harmony.
Both the exhibition and installation were conceptualized and designed by Alberto Embriz-Salgado ’14, Student Designer-In-Residence for Olin and Uris Libraries, and executed in collaboration with library staff members.