Code + culture: new media art from Japan

Domestic media artists have been using programming code in recent years to create some astonishing works of art. We look back at how this scene developed over the years and examine four contemporary artists who have defined the way the genre has evolved.

Japan Times, VERENA DAUERER, 6/12/14

A new generation of domestic media artists has in recent years attracted plenty of international attention. This new breed of artist is typically defined through their tools — often programming code — working as developers at the intersection of art, design, engineering and technology, among other things.

Most importantly, these artists also produce a variety of unique cultural works. Having grown up in an emerging do-it-yourself environment, they are technicians who hack and manipulate microcontrollers to create a wide range of eccentric machines and devices for interactive installations. They use sound, visuals and prototypes in artistic and commercial ways, thus permeating the established boundaries of genre. (…)

Now that we’ve examined how media art has evolved, let’s look at the state of the genre in Japan today. In essence, four artists or agencies represent various facets of the contemporary community in the country: Internet duo Exonemo, sound artist Yuri Suzuki, body scientist Daito Manabe and his Rhizomatiks collective, and teamLab, which has been embraced by the serious art world on the back of its mesmerizing digital projections.

Exonemo, an art duo comprised of Yae Akaiwa and Kensuke Sembo, have primarily been working with smartphones to explore the fractured world that exists between online applications and real life since 1996. (…)

Exonemo has recently extended the chaotic networks it created online to the physical world — to your neighborhood. Its ongoing “Internet Yami-Ichi/Internet Black Market” is essentially a series of flea markets in which artists, hackers and developers attempt to sell a variety of homemade applications, mobile services and gadgets based on the Internet.

The event was created as a way to make a statement against the strict guidelines and submission policies of app stores run by Apple and Google. (…)

Collaboration is also a signature trait of fellow creative Yuri Suzuki. The London-based sound artist and designer is renowned for working closely with developers and mechanical engineers in order to create a dazzling array of custom-made instruments and playful interactive installations. (…)

More recently, Suzuki has risen to prominence for a series of mechanical instruments he created for U.S. rapper on his 2014 single, “Dreamin’ About the Future.”

(…) Based in Tokyo, Manabe comes from a traditional media art environment, graduating in dynamic sensory programming from the International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences in addition to obtaining a degree in mathematics from the Tokyo University of Science. In a manner of speaking, he is a scientist dissecting and reinterpreting the human body through programming code.

“Technology is just a tool, but I capture the world from a different angle rather than see it with naked eyes or hear it with naked ears,” Manabe says.

He has been working with Rhizomatiks, an interactive design group he started with Seiichi Saito and Hidenori Chiba, to perfect his craft on large-scale commercial projects.

It is the attention to detail that typically makes domestic media artists stand out. Another group, or digital agency, that is channeling its creative and artistic energies in a similar way is teamLab from Tokyo.

Initially established as a company that handled databases and web solutions, teamLab is becoming increasingly respected in the international art world. It has made a name for itself by creating interactive large-scale installations that comprise fluid atmospheric visuals and often depict flowers, animals and traditional Japanese motifs. Audiences can easily get lost in the meditative pace of the projections or LED screens they see in front of them and, at the same time, detect a vivid sense of spatiality. Even so, is it art? “We don’t do media art,” retorts Toshiyuki Inoko, who founded the company in 2001. (…)

The beauty of contemporary media art examined here can often be found in the code on which it is constructed. While developers are sure to marvel at the source code of each project, it’s fascinating to see how a tool so rational and precise can produce such breathtaking works of art. It’s arguably even more astonishing to see Japanese artists using such technology in unique and inventive ways.

Hem hagut d’escurçar molt l’article. Per això us recomanem molt que visiteu la web original, llegiu l’article sencer i mireu tots els vídeos.

Aquesta és la primera part d’un article que tindrà continuació a mitjans de gener.

A %d bloguers els agrada això: