Artist Nagato Iwasaki‘s lifelike driftwood sculptures are perfect examples of the uncanny valley — the feelings of revulsion and uneasiness one experiences from non-human objects that appear a bit too similar to real human beings. Japan seems to excel at this in areas like robotics technology, and indeed, the term “uncanny valley” itself was coined in 1970 by a Japanese roboticist, Masahiro Mori. Iwasaki takes this concept out into nature, blurring the line between flesh and wood.
Over the past 25 years, Iwasaki has been crafting these sculptures as part of a collection he simply calls “torso.” The sculptures themselves are life-sized at around 180 centimeters tall, or 5 feet 9 inches and made entirely of driftwood the artist collects in various locations in Japan. No one sculpture is exactly like another which makes them all seem like individuals with their own quirks and personalities. Descriptions of Iwasaki’s sculptures by viewers run the gamut from scary, unsettling, and imposing, to profound, intriguing, and otherworldly.