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PEOPLEText: Aya Shomura

(Im)possible Baby, Case 01: Asako & Moriga” won one of the Excellence Awards in the Art Division of the 19th Japan Media Arts Festival. The piece produces genetic data at random from the genetic information of real same-sex couples, to create a “family portrait”. The creator behind the piece, Ai Hasegawa, is an artist who has been addressing globally-shared issues such as the advancement of scientific technology, biological issues, social issues, and morality. We interviewed the intrepid artist who produces provocative work and incites discussion, continually seeking answers to questions on ethical barriers.

Ai Hasegawa
Ai Hasegawa

Congratulations on winning the Excellence Award in the Art Division of the 19th Japan Media Arts Festival.

Thank you. I previously worked in concept design for an experimental architectural design firm in London, looking at cities and interaction, but more recently, I have been more interested in sci-fi and biology, making artwork that has to do with “reproduction of the future”. I’m interested in what we call “instincts”, so I’m also interested in eating and foods of the future.

On your website, you declare: “Expand the Future”, and explain that you “use art and design to present a solution to the challenges encountered in our daily lives. At the same time, the solution itself questions our perception of living in this world”. Can you tell us about your experience or an account of how came to this idea? Was there a specific occasion that made you think this?

I like science fiction and manga and anime, mostly because they provide me with new perspectives and awareness. I think that providing new perspectives through art could perhaps lead to new future possibilities. It’s more like “expanding the future” instead of simply “extending” it.

Design is usually about “problem solving”, and it usually caters to the majority. In the fields of critical design and speculative design—proposed by my mentors Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby—problems are “posed” by design (for details, please refer to their book Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction and Social Dreaming). For me, my work acts as “proposals for problem solving” (since the technology does not exist yet), but for others they could function as “posed problems”.

“I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin…”, 2013

For example, for “I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin…”, I had turned 30, and was at an age when I would have to seriously think about having children. At the same time, there was a lot of news coverage surrounding environmental issues. Such news reports made me think about overpopulation and the food problem, and I thought, “are more humans necessary? Would children be happy being forced into this deteriorating world?”

ai hasegawa_dilenmachart
“I Wanna Deliver a Shark…”, Dilemma chart (Why don’t I get pregnant with…), 2012, © Ai Hasegawa

However, due to hormonal changes or something, there is a nagging question emerging inside of your body, “don’t you want children?” If you don’t have kids, the 40-some years of dealing with menstrual cramps every month becomes a complete waste. There are currently no solutions to dealing with such a convoluted dilemma, so I thought, “if I had choices without any technological restrictions, what could save me?” That’s when I started to imagine that if I could give birth to anything, I’d want to have a shark and a dolphin….

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