Sculpture: Torii Gate

The Torii Gate as a Gateway Between Dimensions


Timeline: 8 weeks

Deliverable: Floating sculpture

Roles: Construction Woman, Lake-Wader

Tools: Illustrator, CNC Router, Power Tools, Hot Wire Cutter, Sanding, Painting

Torii gates are found at the entrances of Shinto shrines, signaling that the visitor is leaving the ordinary world and—once she passes under the gate—crossing into a sacred one. But what if, instead of from ordinary to sacred, the visitor passes from three dimensions to two?


Inspired by the uncanniness of 2D backpacks and the Itsukushima shrine in Hiroshima (which appears to be floating when the tide is high), I began thinking of the torii gate as an illusion or transition between dimensions.



I simplified the architecture of the gates and drew from traditional Japanese water motifs. I then purchased plywood and created an Illustrator file, putting both through the CNC router.

I used color and outline to bring a 2D influence.

I cut pieces of foam to size with a hot wire cutter and glued them to the base of the and added support structures.

sink or swim


I took my piece to a local lake outlet, where I had to assemble it onsite because the completed sculpture was too large to be carried through doorways. My vision came to life as the structure’s 2D appearance caused a striking contrast against the natural background. I might have suffered from bug bites from the water for the next few weeks, but it was definitely worth it.