Japanese digital artist Ryoichi Kurokawa’s impressive cannon of audio-visual works appear as technologically advanced exercises for the mind. Combining vast symphonies of sound, coupled with terrifyingly intelligent x-ray anchored animation, they appear as a hypnotic swell of audio and image that are propelled into space. This is done in order to deliver, and intentionally dissolve, an intricate matrix of beautifully choreographed activities as art. These experiences are part of a series of advanced works that throw precise and imprecise information at the spectator in an attempt to allow technology to embrace of nature. As Kurokawa’s works generate molecule life forms that once animated appear to dissolve to dust as they twist and turn, before the sequence and sound changes change tack and the animated images evolve into something else. They snap into even more complex computer generated creatures that hover before disappearing from view. This takes places against a backdrop of corrosive sounds and technical interference that appears to want to get the better of life itself.
BY RAJESH PUNJ
Asian Art Newspaper: For an audience less familiar with your work, can you begin by explaining the principles of your practice?
Ryoichi Kurokawa: I create sound and visual works that have a very diverse format, which include installations, full-scale concerts, cinematic screenings and audio recordings, all of which take the form of multi-channel sounds, coupled with technologically advanced displays, projections and 3D sculptures. This allows me to advance a series of ideas at the same time.
AAN: Your work is described as a combination of installations, sound recordings and concert pieces. How do you manage to marry such diverse interdisciplinary approaches? And what is the scale of the work?
RK: My greatest interest is to create and compose sound and light, in order to ‘design time’ as time-based media. With my work the final art formats can be very diverse, but the majority are based on audiovisual compositions. And as with my multi-disciplinary approach, I do not discriminate on the basis of medium. Scale is entirely dependent of the piece, as I can concentrate on compact single screen work and then employ all of the technical tools to create massive-scale immersive pieces.
AAN: Can you explain the notion of a ‘digital generated structure’? And in regard to your reference of ‘structure’ and ‘reconstructing the architectural’, are you building works in space?
RK: The initial elements are generated on computers, as my works are a mixture of generated components and field recorded materials. All of which are correlated in time and space in order to advance artificial ideas and real material collaboratively.
AAN: Regarding your early works, I am intrigued by the broken visual imagery and corresponding sound of Copynature (2003). Can you explain the work?
RK: That original concept was based on the reproduction of nature, which is still one of my main themes for creating artworks. By employing natural components such as form and movement that are copied and positively reconstructed to create a new order. Moreover, the precarious relationship of order and disorder plays an important role in my works.
AAN: Scale and technological ambition appear to be the key components for cm:av_c (2005). As an interactive work, what are you wanting of your audience once they immerse themselves into that kind of concert construction?
RK: With cm:av_c, by eliminating meaning from image and sound, I intended to simply focus on the synthesis of audio and vision to provide a synesthetic experience. With this work everything exists in the artificial realm, as all details are destroyed to make way for an alternative space.
AAN: Sound appears to govern the visual composition of your 2008 work Parallel Head, where again you generatively deconstruct reality of all if its original elements in order to propose something else entirely. And in so doing, does the end of everything allow for an alternative landscape?
RK: Parallel Head is a surround cinema installation focusing on audiovisual stimulus and spatial localisation, and further on, the extension of perception by spatial three-dimensional feelings for sound and images. As the surrounding images are not only synchronised with the audio, but also spatially synthesised with the sound location. This work is composed of filmed scenes, field recordings and generative audio, animation. On 10 screens surrounding spectators the multiple information is projected one after another. I have tried to remove the temporal direction of sequences of sound and image, and instead rearranged them in various locations.
AAN: In Celeritas (2009), you turn technology into an alluring landscape, in which the sequence becomes the audience’s longview. Is the work’s detailed abstraction impressive and imperative for you, as you are creating light and sound in space?
RK: Accumulative abstraction is imperative to my work. Concretion guides you a lot, as it gives exact meaning to something, whereas complete abstraction sometimes makes it impossible to recognise the original sign. Drawing attention to both, I can then value the feeling of floating between abstraction and concretion.
AAN: Can you explain what you intended with your Montreal performance of Rheo in 2009? And of how your accumulative audience responded to such a vast installation of sound and animated sequences?
RK: Rheo is a concert piece which is presented as three vertically long screens with surround sound, inspired by the words ‘panta rhei’, that were left by Heraclitus (535-475 BC). The term ‘rheo’ as the title means flow, current, or stream from the Greek word. Essentially this concert piece is more cinematic, as it is less abstracted in comparison with my general practice. So the audience are easily able to build their own story or create their own impression.
AAN: Does abstraction visually and via new technologies allow for many more possibilities with works like Rheo: 5 Horizons? And in terms of the digital matter, are the combined animations intended to be at the serviceof sound?
RK: This installation is composed of five flat-panel-displays with five multi-channel speakers. Whereby the images are paired with a mono-channel sound, as each video is synchronised to a particular audio. And by synthesizing the individual image the sound cognition can be enhanced accordingly. In order that the behaviour of the resulting imagery can reveal its own sound source position, sonic direction, and drive. As the work provides the space to rediscover the sonic movement, position, and the relation between ego and sound, these resonances have an impact on sensory perception so that it develops a similar synesthetic experience. The sounds also add width and depth via an integration of auditory and visual sensations, and it continuously builds spatial audiovisual construction which offers a renewed recognition of space.
AAN: Ground (2011) plays with documentary footage of the political and personal unrest in Iraq and Afghanistan. In your hands it becomes the material matter for an artwork of beleaguered people, dilapidated cities and conflicts with uncalculated consequences. As much as creating a work of subtle sophistication, are you critiquing war/s of their collateral damage?
RK: This work represents audio-visual expression by reconstructing the factual landscape that was originally recorded in the Middle East and South Asia by Belgian war reporter Daniel Demoustier. With ‘Ground’ I do not intend to guide the viewer, even if I refer to those materials. In fact, I seek to purposely abstract the meanings.
AAN: By replicating the enveloping energy of an unrelenting waterfall in Octfalls (2011), are you attempting to celebrate nature over new technology? And in so doing does the installation become something of a secondary experience?
RK: Nature inspires my work a lot, and my attempt to reconstruct nature has been one of my main concerns from early on in my career, but to qualify that I in no way attempt to celebrate nature. Nature is beautiful but there is also something fundamentally unique to artificial material, and that is something that nature cannot manage to replicate yet.
AAN: How far removed is a work like syn_ (2011)? Are you expecting an audience to leave reality outside upon entering into your digitised drama?
RK: Crucially I do not intend to give guidance to the viewers on my works, and specifically with animated works like syn_ and cm:av_c, as I remove entirely the conception and emphasise of the behaviour of an audiovisual phenomena to perceive and experience physically sound and images more purely.
AAN: As with Parallel Head, you appear to want to deconstruct and dissolve all anatomical evidence of reality in Sirens (2012), in order to create these futuristic forms. Does technology offer something more attractive?
RK: Technology has a quite an important role in my artwork. But my purpose is not about showing off technology, I intend to employ new technologies as an advanced tool to create an artwork that is between the actual and the artificial.
AAN: With your work Oscillating Continuum (2013), it is as if all information, created and constructed, is essentially reduced to a level of interference; less wordly reality more white noise. And therefore is there an underlying encrypted code for everything that is less coherent and more chaotic?
RK: It is an audiovisual sculpture presented as a dual white structure, consisting of two displays on a parallelogram base, each of which contains a speaker. These two structures would not stand up straight if it were not for them keeping each other balanced through a coupling plane. The two displays are opposite to one another but on the same axis. Intrinsically every force and all matter in our universe oscillates continuously, and we maintain equilibrium by being bias and acting with feeling. The drama occurs when all stability breaks down, where upon the higher the instability, the more possibility there is for greater energy. The structure of this work exhibits the micro and macro levels of these laws of nature with the audio-visual components inside the structure also reflecting this disorder to order. So there are two fundamentally different images, communal in form, which have complementary and opposing elements to balance the duality of the periodic flow.
AAN: ground.alt (2014) has you construct visions of reality of digital dust. What are you wishing for with such a sophiscated work?
RK: With this work I am trying to create a beautiful equilibrium of the coexistence of complexity and simplicity.
AAN: 34º55’11”S 138º35’53”E (2015) is architectonic in its scale and projected format; how significant is the accompanying theatre of your works?
RK: The large scale presentation makes it possible to have a more dynamic and unexpected impact, as there is a lot of potential outside the studio. And for me the unknown is very significant when considering the alternatives that become possible in my works.
AAN: Finally, what are you reading right now, and has that an influence on what you are working on at the moment?
RK: At the moment I am not reading anything, as I am currently in the middle of production for new projects (unfold, node5:5). Though reading has influencing me a great deal and continues to act as a trigger for many of my advanced ideas.