Waku was born in Tokyo in 1996, where he currently lives and works. Waku’ s practice centers around the exploration of neon light. Using the medium to challenge our understanding of material, form, and element, Waku probes into deeper questions about how we perceive and relate to the world.
Neon, a medium that is often culturally associated with signage, is treated as a final form in and of itself within Waku’ s works. The son of a Buddhist temple family, Waku’ s childhood exposure to candle-lit prayers and shining golden Buddha statues shaped his ‘formative experience of light,’ and he naturally found himself drawn to the element as a pathway to creating environments. In 2017, he began training as a craftsman at Shimada Neon, one of the leading factories in Japan, before eventually moving to New York where he studied under the tutelage of distinguished neon specialist David Ablon, who also worked on pieces by the late 20th century artist Nam June Paik. A craftsman as well as an artist, Waku’ s intimate relationship with the physical hardware that powers neon (glass, electricity, argon gas, etc.) functions as a starting point for his evolving practice, allowing him to flexibly experiment with ways of “setting neon light free” to create new meaning.