MASASHI KAWAMURA

PEOPLEText: Mariko Takei

About a book “Rainbow In Your Hand“. It seemed you made a good use of YouTube for its promotion. How did you start to make the book and how did you distribute it? Also, did you have an image from the beginning that you might have success using YouTube?

Originally I like flipbooks. And the book was first started because I have been looking for something new to do with flipbooks. One day, as I was flipping a flipbook, I realized there was an afterimage left between pages, aside from sequences of frames that create an animation. And I thought nobody utilized this idea to create an expression before. When I was thinking to do something with it, I wondered wouldn’t it be nice to make a rainbow since the afterimage was arch shaped? So, I tried to make a prototype using my printer and it turned out as well as I had imagined. And then, thinking on what’s the best way to make this expression exist in the world, I thought it’s better to showcase it at bookstores as a product than a work of art. And I went to my friend’s print company and paid for 300 copies of the book out of my own pocket, and went to sell the book to bookstores. One of the bookstores, Mr. Eguchi of Utrecht liked the book very much and they accepted both print and distribution of the book.

As I got good pictures and film for the marketing material, I uploaded it on YouTube and it became widely known more than I expected and was featured on famous design blogs abroad. As a result, the book was distributed at colette. I think the book became popular with the help of the language-independent and universal idea of the book. Honestly I imagined that many people in the world would watch it if I put it on YouTube, but I didn’t expect this much. Through this book experience, now I realized the strength of viral for the first time, which I had just known in my head before. Even if something is small, people will watch it if it has a good idea. I got such confidence from that time.

You are involved in producing a children’s TV program for NHK “Pitagora Switch“. What is your role on the TV program?

My main role was to create contents for the TV program “Pitagora Souchi” and “Algorithm Exercise“. I created Pitagora Sochi, a new toy using household objects as I thought it would be fun if kids can do the same thing at home. Also we have planned Pitagora Switch for several multi programs, it was just a nice expression to make one program like the other, like MTV’s Station ID. At the time when I was involved in the creation, staff and I bought along various products like books and dishes and stayed for 2 weeks in NHK to improvise making the program without any design plans. It was tough sometimes we needed more than 70 takes for a complex device.

As for Algorithm Exercise, Prof. Masahiko Sato and I created its choreography together. I remember we tried various choreographies in the professor’s room. We aimed to create a fun choreography which could be done with various people like a child and parent and between friends. I am very happy as people tell me “I dance like kids or parents teach me the choreography!” One day I saw a YouTube film that people in a jail in Philippines dancing Algorithm Exercise, which I was very impressed to see.

Please tell us about “Hibi no Neiro” a selected work for DOTMOV 2009. It is the music clip of a track Hibi no Neiro by SOUR. Please tell us about the piece: how it was made, what was the idea and who made it.

First of all, a member of SOUR hoshijima is a friend of mine from high school. Since then, he has been making music and I was drawing. Even though our focus was different, we shared common taste and we were always saying that it would be nice to do something together someday. And I made a music video “Hangetsu” (Half Moon) for the first time in accordance with SOUR’s debut. After that, I made a video for the track “Omokage no Saki” (Beyond Your Memory). So this was my 3rd time making videos for SOUR.

Hibi no Neiro was made by 4 members including me, Hal Kirkland who is in the team with me at BBH (we made the previous work “Omokage no Saki” together) and New York-based video artists Magico Nakamura & Masayoshi Nakamura. It was the fruit of our guts (laughs).

As I started to think about this project, I fist came up with a concept with images of “various characteristics” and “connection” from its lyric. And we had a difficult situation for shooting as SOUR was based in Japan and our production team was based in New York, also we had a small budget so we couldn’t use good equipment. But we switched the idea to take a good advantage of such constraint for the music video, and that took us to the idea to make a big picture connecting various videos which were shot with webcams by fans. As we use Skype to contact with people in Japan, we were like “people these days are connected in such form”.

It took about 3 months for the production period from planning to its completion. It took more time than I expected because all 4 of us had to work on other works during the daytime and we needed to work with a quite a lot of people for teaching an acting performance and shooting. For the first month after the concept was fixed, we printed out various sizes of grid and drew as many ideas as we could imagine. And we picked good ones among the ideas and made them animated them to weigh the timing of the track. Based on it, we then shot ourselves to test details of choreography, post produced it, and made a prototype of the video. And then we sent out the prototype to the participating fans and asked them to dance in reference to the prototype video. People might think we adjusted the video, but we tried to stick with not using gimmicks for editing like time stretch. I believe all element including such focus, joy to connect with unknown people and love toward the band from fans created the hand-made quality and finish of the video.

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