The yearly schedule in the New Media program I attended revolves around two public exhibitions in which we show our works: the summer Open Studio and the winter Media Practice. Most of the work done for the exhibition itself is also done by us students, in fact (the brochure and poster design, the exhibit design, tending to visitors, public relations, etc.) So we all split the work and let each focus on different tasks.

Media Taiso Dai-Ichi

The first exhibition for our generation was in fact yet another one. During the first term we do intensive work with each of the professors for a few weeks each, and during the first of those, Fujihata Masaki’s, we were tasked for the last week to make an exhibition. This involved making the works to display as well, all during a single week, and with it being our first experience, let’s just say it was quite hectic. This exhibit we called Media Taiso Dai-Ichi (playing on Japanese radio calisthenics, “radio taiso”.) We had two assignments to cover: “projecting over something other than a screen”, and a movement sensor-triggered video. Below is the first of these, as prepared by my team. It’s really just a projector fit into a trashcan…

Open Studio 2015

This was the first of the proper exhibitions (here is the official website). Second-year students made a great rap video to promote the exhibition, that I couldn’t get out of my head for months. For us first-years, we had to prepare a selection of what we had done with each professor. I exhibited one work I had created during professor Kiriyama Takashi’s class, Asymmetric feedback. It involves two computers running two separate programs I made in openFrameworks, designed to pick up on the other’s output, and create a different output based on it. So one of the computers can “see” with a camera, and outputs sound, while the other can “hear” with a microphone, and outputs an image. The installation was also displayed so that visitors would interfere in the exchange.

I also have an older recording of the installation in its original form, during Kiriyama’s class.

Media Practice 15-16 and the Nendo Project

(I was in charge of camera recording, so I was the one to make the video above.)

The Media Practice 15-16 website is here. By now we had moved onto fully personal projects, starting to shape what we’d continue with until graduation. At the moment I was interested in the design of a programming language, one that would incorporate modes of thought particular to design and the visual arts. This I called the Nendo Project. I had to that point barely implemented a few interesting ideas by other authors, and experimented with a few elementary concepts, but had nothing too concrete, had yet to find a direction for it.

You can see a video record of my corner in the exhibition below. The monitor at the center was what I made for my first presentation of the project, and involves many ideas I ended up discarding (it’s all in Japanese, but the video itself is here). Three of the iMacs around it display a screen-capture of me demonstrating what I had implemented to three different people. The leftmost computer with the red chair is where you can try it out for yourself. I wrote a few example programs in a flyer to get interested visitors started and experimenting right there, or even at home if desired.

Ideas I implemented include modifications to the native Racket library pict (whose value-based approach was attractive,) a basic functional-style implementation of turtle graphics, and Conal Elliot’s supremely interesting Pan language. I put the code up on Github: what I called my “first sketch” is here, and the “second sketch” is here—both are written in the Racket programming language.

The year 2016

So far I had learned a lot but was still drawing a blank on where to take my programming language. I was working on the language without having something concrete I wanted to use it on. So I devised a plan to develop my Nendo Project that involved creating mini-languages for specific tasks: a musical instrument language to be used live for creating music, and a synaesthetic language that would turn a single piece of code into two different outputs, visual and auditory. In between both I had devised to create an installation that would allow me to get a feel for the relation between image and sound. Solving these tasks would hopefully allow me to gain insight into the sort of programming language design that I was pursuing, which I could then develop upon (taking whatever discoveries I made in the process and applying them in the design of a new language). So this was a very roundabout —and possibly unfruitful— way of getting to my objective, but I felt it necessary. However, I was heavily misunderstood by the professors, who would focus on the aesthetic and conceptual merit of these tasks in themselves. In the end I was compelled to abandon the project altogether.

I was left out of that year’s summer exhibition (together with six other in my year, out of twelve.) I embarked upon a new direction, a subject easier to grasp for someone not technically-inclined: not computer, but human languages. And so we arrive at where my experience in Japan ends, my graduation project proper, which I already posted about last month: Come to think of language.