Yokohama is becoming such a hot place for art, we told you before. And once again, we happily hop on the train as, right now, the Electrical Fantasista media art festival has works by a young generation of media artists on display. We have the feeling that some of these trifle playful and funny things might become available for our everyday pelasure pretty soon… Definitely some nice interactive stuff to see at ZAIM venue – the historical building of the Ministry of Finance’s local office in Yokohama that has been turned into an art space. PingMag ponders on new media art in a chat with Tomohiro Okada, curator and head of Creative Cluster, the company that organises the festival.
Written by Ayana
Translated by Natsumi Yamane
First, what is Creative Cluster about and how did Electrical Fantasista get started?
I work as curator for “Electrical Fantasista” which is an exhibition for new generation media artists. Here, the new generation I’m referring to are the people who grew up in an environment where NES and PCs are readily available. A generation for whom the aspiration to program a console rather than a software for it is becoming less peculiar. I think works by these people should be more exposed. However, despite the fact that there is a generational shift in media arts, there is very little opportunity for presentation. That’s why I established Creative Cluster and started organising annual exhibitions.
“Tengu” by Crispin Jones, an interactive designer based mainly in Europe. Just plug it into your USB and the character changes its expressions. Watch a video from here.
“vibon” by Jin Kuramoto. Intriguingly, it turns the table into a speaker by vibration of the white dish.
These days, people can see art and design by their own criteria through information from the Internet or other media and I feel it’s important to spread future technologies by such people. For this exhibition, we commissioned the site design to Ben Nagaoka who also designed 101TOKYO Art. Rather than just viewing the works, this exhibition is designed to be a space for interaction and initiating conversations and we hope people would imagine how media art can enrich our daily lives.
What can you do to change the volume of your stereo other than pushing buttons or turning dials? In “hana no ne” by Junichi Matsuyama, you add flowers in a vase to adjust the volume!
“machi akari,” also by Junichi Matsuyama. As graphite in pencils conducts electricity, drawing connects the two coils to light the lamp.
By the way, could you please once again explain the term media art?
In a narrow sense, it’s a form of expression that uses electronic media and technologies that use electronic media. In a broader sense, it’s a kind of expression that brings people and people or people and things together. By that, I mean for example forms of representations such as the works by Kennichi Okada. He doesn’t use electronic media but changes people’s perspectives through the work that in itself is a medium. When we speak of media, people tend to imagine videos and such but that’s not necessarily the case and media art is perhaps more about creating something poetic and moving between the work and people.
“Emote Scope” by Kennichi Okada: Just by looking through the camera, familiar scenes are transformed into somewhat nostalgic.
“METAPHYS susuki” by Chiaki Murata: A lighting system that moves, lights and wavers to the slightest flow of the air. Watch the video here.
We see! There is obviously a much deeper significance to media art than we thought. Then, how did you select the artists’ line-up in this exhibition?
First of all, we were looking for people who would change technology into something appealing toward the future ahead through their expressions, or people who are practising it in the creation of their works. Secondly, artists who grew up with computers and those who can move people with their works. And finally, artists who create works that aren’t limited to art but have the possibility to become products or space designs.
“Gyororu” by Bascule. You can fish in the fishing pond projected on the floor using your mobile…
… and keep your catch in another tank projected on the wall! Now it’s an interactive aquarium with fishes labelled with your name.
Any message for visitors of Electrical Fantasista?
I would like people to enjoy these appealing works and discover technologies that they would cherish. I also hope that there will be opportunities for the exhibits to be connected to companies and hopefully be commercialised at some point — and it would be just as fun to see a pub with media art coming too. (laughs) In the future, I would like to see a society where artists and designers are the ones who come up with IT rather than corporate giants. At the moment, around Tokyo, Yokohama is the only place with a site big enough for such exhibitions. But if there is a variety of people presenting works in different ways, Tokyo and Yokohama will become even more interesting places than they are now.
You’re certainly right there! Tomohiro Okada, thanks very much for your time. Folks, this media art extravaganza will be on until next Wednesday. Don’t miss it! And if you’re in Yokohama anyway, do enjoy this historic port town as well.
The entrance of the ZAIM annex, where the Electrical Fantasista is held.
Running until Wednesday, August 6th, 2008.
Opening from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Entrance Fee: ¥700.