Transcending outer appearances. Kenichiro Mizuno's illustration for <a href="http://www.confused.co.jp/">Dazed&Confused Japan</a>, AIDS in Tokyo report, issue #59. Courtesy of Dazed&Confused.

Kenichiro Mizuno's Lucid Dreams

How do the images on this site look to you? Like romanticised deja vu or more weird trippy dreams? Tokyo-based Kenichiro Mizuno makes his own daydreams come true: by visualising his fantasy worlds with cheap drawing software that he pushes to its limits, thus creating a weird 80′s style game aesthetics he then likes to tear apart. His fragmented illustrations and paintings appear on bags, sneakers and chic fashion apparel. He converts his deconstructions to VJing, TV animation and jingles for NHK or, in a more physical manifestation, as an interior of Tokyo’s Ebisupark bar. As he was busy preparing for his live painting gig that will be at SDL, Tokyo, this Wed, he wouldn’t talk too much about his mind. PingMag therefore shows you more of his dreams…

Written by Verena

Another illustration for Dazed&Confused Japan‘s report about Tokyo’s AIDS status, by Kenichiro Mizuno. Courtesy of Dazed&Confused.
Another of Kenichiro’s illustrations for the mag. Courtesy of Dazed&Confused Japan.

First, your technique: You seem to mix analogue with digital means a lot…

I came from a painting background. Now I use both painting and computer graphics – but I don’t necessarily mix. I don’t decide what would be better for which project, I just like to use everything to express myself…

… with one quite special retro aesthetic that reminds me a lot of old-school games. That’s because of this old Japanese software you use…?

I wanted to use that retro game aesthetic for its visual aspect, not for the animation. Pushing this software to its limits and using it in a slightly different context was my idea. However, that’s nothing unique: Basically anyone could create this actual aesthetic if they just use that software – so I’m afraid I can’t tell you what my secret weapon is… It’s from the 90s, that’s all I can reveal… Apart from that, I use AfterEffects for the movements, the animations.

Apples ascending to heaven: still from the short film “Parking Park,” shown at last year’s Resfest Japan.

But still your style is special. And your themes: Several of your exhibitions are based around surreal dreams and fantasy. What got you into that?

First, everybody likes fantasy. However, my kind of fantasy is different from something like Harry Potter or witches. And as everybody has a different fantasy world inside, mine was inspired by a lot of the fantasy surrounding me and I tried to create my own out of that.


Now it’s the car that keeps ascending… Still from short film “Parking Park”…

… animation still as part of the “Radical Private Garden” series by Kenichiro Mizuno.
More from the “Radical Private Garden” series by Kenichiro.

… your inspiration then?

I create these fantasies the way I think they would be interesting. Otherwise, my biggest influence would be Japanese anime. For example, the story of Gundam was quite good.


Kenichiro’s lipstick illustrations…

… and the mirror motif on checked pattern…

… served as a print design for Hisui

…and the mirror motif was used as a skirt pattern also by Hisui, a Tokyo-based fashion brand, in their Winter 06 line.

What would be the difference between your dreams and your fantasies?

Surely a dream is something you see at night whereas fantasy is something you create. What I see in my dreams is really important for me, and my arts reflects my feelings in combination with my dreams.

And this parking lot fantasy animation called “Parking Park” as part of your “Radical Private Garden” series that was shown at last year’s Resfest: Was that drawn from a dream, too?

Though I didn’t see that in my dreams, I tried to recreate the feeling and atmosphere of a dream I had in it. At least I tried to make it as as close as possible…


Lemons? Lemon patterns!…

… appeared in Hisui’s Summer 07 fashion line.

It was amazing! With these objects deconstructing themselves…

I like it when atoledo objects construct and deconstruct themselves. The transformation is the interesting thing here. I create things in order to break them. When I was a child, everybody would have these wooden blocks. So, I would make a large castle of blocks, put insects with a hard shell inside and then destroy the whole construction with my toy car! The next level of the game would be to see if the insects were okay… The more amazing the construction was, the more fun the destruction was.

Oh, little robots! Illustration for fashion brand DIET BUTCHER SLIM SKIN from Tokyo.

There are different kinds of destruction going on: with the sound and in the image whilst you are creating it. And because I try to push this quite simple software to the max, the result is never perfect. I want to see all these kinds of imperfections. I like things not perfectly finished.


Kenichiro’s robots and creatures on rucksacks…

… and on shoes. For DIET BUTCHER SLIM SKIN.

… and to know when something is finished can be very difficult…

It’s all about balance. Even in the unfinished, there is a finished balance.

Nice philosophy! What’s the story behind the Radical Private Garden series, where visitors were involved as part of an installation?

It was a kind of a performance in a 3D setting: I made a hundred large landscape drawings. And when the people came to see the exhibition, I put them in front of the landscapes. Then, I asked each of them to wear sunglasses and pose and I took photographs of them as if they were inside the landscape.


Mizuno’s alien drawings served as pattern for…

… a DIET BUTCHER SLIM SKIN’s stool ensemble.

More designs for DIET BUTCHER SLIM SKIN

… and especially interesting patterns. For DIET BUTCHER SLIM SKIN.

You also visualised your dreams for TV ads and jingles for NHK?

Yes. And also VJing, for example for Japanese band Tegwon that used my animations for their live gigs. I also made drawings using a piece of software that was originally developed for drawing on a TV with a tablet. To record the drawing you used your video recorder. However, mine was broken at that time. I thought its noises were quite pretty.


Mizuno’s “Parking Park” decor above the counter of Tokyo’s Ebisupark bar.

Ha! Retro aesthetics hitting once again – but in a nice colourful way! Thank you, Kenichiro Mizuno, for giving us a glimpse into your dream worlds! And warm thanks to Alice Taylor for her kind translation help!

Event info:
Kenichiro Mizuno at Salon Paradise, SDL, Tokyo, map.
Wednesday, August 8th
From 19.30 on
1 500 Yen (incl. 1 drink)

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    I like Kenichiro Mizuno’s work. It would be nice if he could tell us what kind of 3D software he used. Of course that type of rendering could be replicated in any modern 3D software (3ds Max, Maya, etc.)

    Based on a few minutes of research I found that he could have used either of the following software packages:

    Retas
    ExpressionTools

    Both were created by Japanese software companies in the 90′s. I am only going by the screenshots posted in this article as I could not find any info online about Parking Park or Radical Private Garden.

    If it’s not Retas or ExpressionTools, then I would guess he is using a CAD program with animation capabilities.

  • http://www.pingmag.jp Verena

    Aloha – you can get some of his prints at printem – or contact Mizuno directly.

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