PEOPLEText: Ayumi Yakura

Your work, in the main, is consistent in using video, installations and performances, and in a way some of your work could be described as having similarities to documentaries. By establishing a contradiction, and having a boundary between virtual reality and the real world, it is really interesting how you have coupled this in your work with game-like properties that everyone would like to try. Would you say that this is your intention?

I would say so. There is that intention to a certain extent. When shooting a video I train and create choreography with the performers, but it’s not possible to perfectly control visual phenomena on set. Even if the choreography has been strictly decided acts of improvisation can occur and by that a documentary is born – which is intended.

At the beginning I start by creating a void, and in order to record that void, as an approach, I use film. So, in order to establish a visual piece that communicates the properties of the void I treat it as a performance, I put it on stage. I record it and then what happens in it is like a tool, and as it is shot on film it can have the properties of a documentary, but I think as a result the finished work can have aspects of being both a documentary and a work of fiction (in terms of dramatic parts).

“You would come back there to see me again tomorrow.” Installation, 2013, Documentation Movie at Bangkok Art and Culture Center, MEDIA/ART KITCHEN © Michiko Tsuda

I don’t understand what you can call reality and virtual reality, but rather than being a film of the inside of the void, there is a connection with the reality of the void and we can think about what we are able to almost visually see in a real space. I am not sure if it can be called a game-like property, but it had become an experience without me noticing and I think its best that it is exhibited.

Originally you were planning to be an engineer, as a media artist, have you thought about utilizing developing digital technology such as CG?

I would say that I am developing my own technology, I don’t mean a type of technology that solves problems, but even though engineering wasn’t for me I am interested in technology. I am not obsessed with any particular digital technology, but I think that as an artist I can use technology and it can raise issues, artists are not here to make something particularly useful, but to inspire thinking.

“Yeu & Mo” Video, 2007-09 © Michiko Tsuda

The latest technology is something that people have developed and built up to now, while older media may have had possibilities to be developed in a different direction – however technological developments are dependent on what people desire or demand. Clearly these desires or demands are very strong. I am interested in whether this can be implied from technology and why any particular technology became possible.

As my own honest somesthesia is important to me I lean towards media that is familiar to me, but when I had the opportunity to use a 3D printer I made 3D models from images taken at airports and I could forge ahead with a project of creating three dimensionally linked airports. I have also had increasing opportunities to experience VR and it has caught my interest. I think I can probably handle it if more unknown technologies fall into my hands.

Outside of Japan you have held solo exhibitions in Slovakia and Russia as well as joined either group exhibitions or artist in residence programs in the US, Europe and Asia – do you think your experience of cross-cultural activities is reflected in your work?

Yes, I think so. By being in these places one’s awareness is shaped. I went to Indonesia a few times and I found out that originally the official language of this country didn’t have an alphabet – knowledge and folktales were passed from person to person orally instead of via books. I had never experienced a culture like this before and I was quite taken aback. This led me to experiment using a recording to see how a story can change by oral communication.

“Journey” Collaboration with Caroline Bernard, 3D print object, 2013, Cooperation: UQAM, Montreal, Photo: Damien Guichard © Michiko Tsuda

Furthermore, my project “Journey,” which incorporated 3D models of videos taken at airports, made me think whether it was possible to produce something from movement. When I visit somewhere new if I have time I like to visit local museums and shoot miniatures of the exhibits which I gather together as video material. Seeing the images of the miniatures is really interesting, and I think that it is an attractive subject to consider how one can convey the culture of another country and the various ways it is represented. I am intending to make some kind of video artwork around this idea and the material that I have been gathering.

I think in the near future I want to experience more new countries and cultures, but not in the sense of settling down somewhere and living there because I have moved about quite a lot. If I can directly reflect upon my stays in unknown countries I think it gives me the opportunity to relativize that with what I have done up until now, and it gives me a great deal of motivation for creating my work and directing my interest.

At the 20th JAPAN MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL Exhibition of Award-winning Works to be held in Tokyo from September 16th, more than 150 works selected out of 4,034 works from 88 countries and regions around the world, including your work, will be exhibited. Please send a message to SHIFT readers interested in media arts.

Please come see it at Hatsudai!

20th JAPAN MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL Exhibition of Award-winning Works
Date: September 16th – 28th, 2017
Place: NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC], Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, and other locations *please check the venue information.
Admission: Free
Organizer: 20th Japan Media Arts Festival Executive Committee
Tel: 03-5459-4668 (9:00 – 20:00)

Text: Ayumi Yakura
Translation: Mike Sullivan

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