PEOPLEText: Victor Moreno

Last June we attended “Beauty of Natural Resolution – End to End Transformation of Material Things – Digital Nature” at the Eye Of Gyre in the Omotesando area in central Tokyo. For this exhibition, Yoichi Ochiai, the renowned interdisciplinary media artist and professor, showed some of his best-known work revamped. In recent years, Dr. Ochiai’s research and artwork have focused on the concept of Digital Nature, sparking an impressive body of work delving into the relationship between humans, nature and technology. Just 30 years old, Ochai holds a Ph.D. in Applied Computer Science from the University of Tokyo. In addition, he has received countless awards in the fields of research and science, and collaborated with a number of renowned universities and institutions worldwide. These include University of Tsukuba, which is known to be one of the most comprehensive research universities in Japan. Beginning in 2017, Ochoai became the Director of Strategic Research Platform towards Digital Nature at Pixie Dust Technologies. His main focus is on VR, tactile presentation methods, digital fabrication, automatic driving and human control.

As Dr. Ochiai explains: “The concept of Nature today is not the same as for a man who lived in The Paleolithic Age.” Expanding on this theme, Ochiai refers to a concept he calls “Supernature” – a point in the near future where it won’t be possible to differentiate between what is artificial and what is not. American writer Philip K. Dick wrote extensively about this topic in novels such as “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, the script source for the blockbuster movie Blade Runner. According to Dr. Ochiai, the point of “Supernature” will be a “defining test” and turning point over the next few decades for whether human beings can adapt and thrive. Another key aspect of his research is what Dr. Ochai calls “borrowed scenery.” This concept was showcased at the Eye of Gyre exhibit in a centerpiece called “Morpho Scenery”, which extracted a 2-dimensional portion of the Omotesando street reflected in a big lens. We had the opportunity to talk briefly to get a better understanding of this magnificent work.

Photo: Masato Kato

Please let us know what is the main purpose of Pixie Dust Technologies.

Pixie Dust Technologies strives to bring new inventions from academia and IP to society. The name derives from our mission to develop computational technologies to enhance our day-to-day experiences with magical experiences towards Digital Nature. It is the vehicle to connect art and technology and to build the ecosystem for a new cycle of art and related technologies.

You are a media artist, scientist, professor and lecturer. Please let us know the secret to how you organize yourself to find the time to cope with all the amazing projects you are involved with.

My focus is guided by my deep interest and work in scientific disciplines. For example, when completing my PhD, I majored in acoustic holograms and continue to explore the relationship between wave fields and human interactions. With the support of staff in my lab and company, I’m still focusing on the implementation, concept construction, sketching, problem solving and more. Other projects are offshoots of this core work and can be implemented by others with our direction and delegation.

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