To make that which is not normally seen, visible. That was the assignment in school for which this video work (made late 2015) was born, in which we tried to make a sewing machine’s mechanism visible—where does the thread go and how does it ultimately form the stitching pattern. We tried shooting a transparent fabric from up close and in high-speed (for slow-motion playback,) but however we tried, we couldn’t make its inner workings clear. Instead, hands out of focus partially covering the view of our subject seen only in portions at a time, with white and rounded shapes contrasting sharp and shiny metal ones, the sewing machine’s mystery and allure only deepened.
One of the cooler things I was involved in during my studies at Tokyo University of the Arts was the two-week virtual reality workshop in Seoul I was invited in, last February—the “VR Cubic Workshop.” Students from three universities corresponding to three countries (Korea National University of Arts, Communication University of China, and ours) studied the technology and created content for the HTC Vive using Unity. Teams were split according to university, and given the task of creating a VR space inspired by a historical figure representative of their country. In our case, we chose Sen no Rikyu, a master of the tea ceremony that cemented most of its traditions during the 16th century. We based our space on one of his designs, the Taian, a two-tatami-small tea room that embodies the rustic simplicity of wabi-cha. While the video above shows a demonstration of our project, The tea room, I also edited a video (below) with the closing presentation for the workshop, which was held in Seoul with all of the students and professors. In it you can see demonstrations of the whole three projects. […]
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. […]
Even though I’ve been making a lot of stuff and been involved in many projects during my stay in Japan, I’ve failed to keep this blog updated, so I’ll try to slowly and retroactively add everything. I’ll start with the latest: my graduation project.
I spent the last two years in the New Media program at the Tokyo University of the Arts (named the university thus as it may be, I actually lived and studied in Yokohama, where the Film and New Media school is located.) The second year is when most of one’s energy goes into the graduation project. I’m not going to get into details here, but it was a rough year for our generation, and I’m glad it’s over. I had a first start with my Nendo project, of the design of a programming language inspired by art and design thinking, but the last six months or so had me switch over to what I call in English the Come to think of language project, which I guess you could call a linguistic experiment. I’m of course not a linguist, but I am very interested in the field and inspired by some of its thinkers. The linguistic relativity principle, or so-called Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, was one idea that drew me to the original programming language design, and that inspired the project that I ultimately completed. This is a very simple but powerful idea: the observation that language is deeply linked with thought, and that different languages would foster different ways of thinking. This has been highly debated in the linguistics field (Chomsky’s followers are very much against this idea, for, I dare say, mostly historical reasons,) but rather than attempt proving or refuting it, I assumed its truth and let it influence me. […]
At university I’ve ended up working on several video pieces, most of them very fun to work at. Here are some of them, all created as part of some assignment.
Gaten is a work that had to comply with the conditions of being about the human body, and of incorporating as a theme either ball, string, box, or bag. We went with string (amounting to not much but an initial pretext,) and our answer was devising a human swing. We just took it over the top.
This video, which I titled when uploading to Vimeo An experiment in high-speed filming, is the result of a process of doing just that, but then trying to use the technique acquired for expressive purposes. The concept is of a —I struggle with what to call it— metadiegesis in which us students act ourselves, and, well, saying further would be spoiling it. Despite what the above might suggest, it is a lowbrow, hackneyed little video that we still enjoyed putting together.
I’ve been applying for a Master’s at the Tokyo University of the Arts, a program called “New Media”. In typical Japanese fashion, there’s innumerable hoops I need to hop through for that. One of the steps involved the submission of a physical DVD-Video with a sample of my work (along with other documents), so I created a reel of some of the stuff I’ve made that I like. It’s five minutes long and is comprised of nothing new, but here it is.
I just came back from Japan, after spending six months improving my Japanese there at a language school and generally enjoying being in such a culturally interesting environment. I made tons of friends, Japanese and from countless other countries; it was extremely stimulating.
The place I lived at was a small city called Ueda, located in a valley in the mountainous Nagano prefecture. If you asked someone from one of the bigger cities in Japan, they’d say where I lived was what they call inaka, the countryside. But would you ask the people who had lived there their whole lives, or in one of the surrounding, smaller cities and towns, they would say no, that’s not inaka. Of course, me coming from a pretty large city, the place was small and cozy; refreshingly so. I started using Vine —the short video recording app— during this trip, so here are some of the best ‘moving photos’ I captured from those places.
I decided to make a new video, as an exercise. A quickie—took me two days. Another music video, but this one is for a song I made myself a good while ago, together with Matt Peter.
I used a few family photos from the late eighties, playing up their graininess and color patterns. Their texture made for a much less mechanic-looking set of kaleidoscopic compositions than what is probably the norm. It was also my intention to play with alternately obscuring and revealing the nature of the images, hiding them in the geometry, and slowly giving way to recognizable objects and people. The middle section is intentionally psychedelic, switching to meet the mood of the music. Toward the end it’s much more of a nostalgic slide-show of memories.