The exhibition and installation of the drawing machine “HEKTOR” by creative unit “Field Trip” was performed at gallery “Information” in Tokyo. This drawing machine “HEKTOR” is a bit unusual, incorporating a spray attached to a machine that automatically glides on a wall. The can draws images that are inputted through a PC. HEKTOR’s performances have been done all over the world, this is its first time in Japan.

It is the creative unit “Field Trip” that organized this exhibition and performnce with “HEKTOR”. “Field Trip” members include Alex Rich, Jonathan Hares and Jurg Lehni (one of the developers of “HEKTOR”). They work together despite being situated in London, Lausanne and Tokyo. In this interview, I was able to hear from members Alex and Jurg.

First of all, could you tell me the way “Field Trip” started?

Alex: The first idea was let’s bring our separate specialties and work together. It was the beginning.

Jurg: We thought we could bring and share things utilizing each others background.

Alex: Normally, we work in our separate countries and studios. Regardless, we are in constant contact: I’m in Tokyo, Jonathan in London, Jurg in Switzerland. Our studio is like a virtual one and we have good relations thanks to excellent technology such as iChat. It is interesting to work together in spite of living separately.

Then could you tell me in more depth about “HEKTOR”?

Jurg: First of all, “HEKTOR” is the name of the device, which automatically draws a picture on a wall with a spray can controlled by a PC. We attach two motors to the wall and hang a spray can in the center with a bit of wire stretched between them. Finally we manipulate it with the PC. It’s a bit of a strange system, quite different from the principles of a usual XY printer.

Its physical appearance is very comical, for it moves as it dances on a wall. The process of its drawing is very interesting to see. It is something like a so-called performance tool. Therefore, we are often able to use it at exhibitions where visitors can see the process of drawing in front of them. Its pace is so slow that you can see how its drawing goes.

Alex: Moreover, the interface for handling it is quite interesting. (Showing photos of operation screen on the material that was actually used) on this red line, a spray can moves.

You develop a software program, don’t’ you?

Jurg: Yes. Actually, I’m best at programming. I started studying programming for real through self-education at 14 and also continued working on pictures and sounds. In college, I majored in engineering and found that I’d like to apply things like that in a creative way, taking a route for art. Programming is such a logical task that I ponder about its construction. This is, however, such a systematic task that this can’t be said to be healthy. I get balanced through a teamwork approach like this project (Field Trip, etc.) or exhibitions like this.

Why did you name it “HEKTOR”?

Jurg: I have to say that I made this machine together with my friends. Therefore, this work follows collaboration with them. I discussed the name of this machine with them, “what is the good name that expresses this machine at a word?”

What was the reason for drawing by machine?

Alex: It is the same thing as architects, although you are able to draw by hand you use a plotter machine.

Jurg: But it is slower than drawing by hand 🙂 All the same, one thing that can be said is that the process of drawing is shown in an interesting way; in fact astreamline during design appears on the surface.

Alex: Moreover, this machine has some resemblance to a laser printer and to use technology is quite interesting. Also, many graphic designers make very clear works, which corresponds with recent advancements in technology. However, we don’t think that clear necessarily equals good. In fact, we regard such trends as quite boring.

What reaction did the audience have with the installation?

Jurg: Very good. Yesterday a great number of people came and enjoyed it though there were several problems.

How about countries other than Japan?

Jurg: It is always different, but people respond positively.

Is there any relation with graffiti?

Alex: Nothing special. The only thing in common is to use a spray can. I do drawing by a pen. That’s all.

Jurg: It is not street art, so we are different from graffiti artists. We make pieces mainly on media.

What’s on the horizon?

Alex: First of all, a Web site for “Field Trip”.

As they say, thanks to the popularization of computers and graphic software, everybody can make pieces that have an all-alike texture. It’s true that there are many pieces, which are inorganic in some way and have a clean impression. They use technology through their own interpretation, fusing them with analog things or mediating not only digital processing but also the physical movement of drawing by computer. This enables them to make up more unique pieces. Moreover, not only the finished piece but also the process is incorporated in the piece itself which make audience’s experience rich.

For example, if this machine is set anywhere in this world and there is a network, it can be thought that graffiti of their “Field Trip” is performed in real time. The possibilities go far beyond what I can imagine and “HEKTOR” has an appeal whose various usages I can’t fully comprehend.

Furthermore, they are in other various projects. Especially, “scrollable-landscape“, which is also a project on the Web. It is interesting and anyone can participate in it, so those who are interested should view it.

Exhibition by HEKTOR with FIELD TRIP
Date: 14th – 16th April , 2006
Open: 12:00-20:00
Place: the Gallery Information
Address: CODAN Canal-court 3block mYwaY 2F, 1-9-17 To-un Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Tel: +81-3-3532-1901

Text and photos: Yasuharu Motomiya
Translation: Yuhei Kikuchi

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