Takuma

Interview with creative coder and immersive technologist, Takuma Nakata

Interview December 9, 2020

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Rob

Do you want to just explain a bit about what you do and what your journey has been to get to this point?

Takuma

I’m a freelance interaction designer based in Kyoto. I design immersive experiences in the world of technology and visuals. I started my career as a motion designer. At some point when I was studying, I realized that I was more interested in seeing how people interact with my work. So I decided to learn coding, but textbase coding didn’t work for me. So I went to this tool called VVVV, which is a note based programming language. And that worked really well for me.

Takuma

I think eight years ago I started using that tool and I never stopped using it. Before this COVID 19 thing, the world was really into immersive experiences, like projection mapping and interactive installations. So I had a lot of opportunities to work with brands, festivals, and things like that.

And also my Adobe creative residency, which happened last year, was really great. Adobe gave me the opportunity to work as an artist, prove myself, and develop my own artwork based on immersive experience. So that’s the short explanation of what I’m doing and what I’ve been doing.

Rob

So you grew up in Kyoto, right?

Takuma

Oh, no. I grew up in the Southern hemispheres; Brazil, Senegal, Indonesia.

Rob

What was it like growing up there? What was your first exposure to art? How did you develop that passion?

Takuma

When I was growing up, I couldn’t understand why I had to move to different countries. Developing friends is hard if every one or two years you have to move. That was because of my father’s work. When I was studying at high school in Japan (an international school), nothing actually made sense for me as a potential career. Art was something that was nonverbal.

I had the opportunity to study whatever I wanted. I did all the mathematics and Japanese and everything, and art was just part of that. I tried to figure out what I was interested in by choosing different categories. And in the end, art seemed to be really ambitious and something that you couldn’t really reach – it was really hard to figure out what the goal was for arts. So that was really interesting.

Rob

So then after school, what happened next?

Takuma

After that, I went to art university in Kyoto and that’s where I started. The city was really nice, but I didn’t grow up being educated in a Japanese local school, so university was quite hard. When I discovered projection mapping, they never allowed me to rent a projector, and I didn’t have money to buy one. It was that strict set of rules that didn’t really fit me. So I decided to move to The Netherlands, to Utrecht Art University, which was far looser and really nice. They were open to everything. 

Rob

Would you recommend it? 

Takuma

To be honest, I wasn’t really at school – I was not a good student. I was more involved in my internship, trying to study projection mapping and things like that. But the school was great. 

Rob

What was the internship you were doing?

Takuma

There was this collective called Born Digital and they were doing a lot of new media stuff, like projection mapping, where they contracted an installation. After I moved to the university (I moved during the third year) and I had to choose where I wanted to go for an internship. They were doing a lot of stuff. They taught me how to use VVVV, that was my first introduction to the software. 

After that, I ran out of money because I was paying all my tuition by myself. That was another reason why I had to quit university, because it was costing too much.

Rob

How have you funded this as you’ve gone along, have you been working alongside studying? 

Takuma

I tried to do that in the Netherlands, but it was really hard for me to earn money as a student and not as a citizen. I decided to quit university and go back to Japan. I was staying in Tokyo for one year, working as a freelance interaction designer.

Rob

What was that like?

Takuma

That was great. The first opportunity I got was to work with an animation company called Studio 4D and they were the ones creating the tech Tekkonkinkreet. They were working together with Toyota for Japan Expo, which happened in France, and the International Anime Festival in Tokyo. I was commissioned to work on developing an interactive, tangible anime, where you could touch a surface and an animation character would interact. 

Rob

How did that come about? How did you find that work?

Takuma

Developing was really hard. I realized I had to be more organized to make sure everything was on track. Producing art in Holland was more rough – I could just go there and see if I could do it or not. But doing that as work, I had to be constructive, which was a really good learning. The audience really liked it, so that was great. Seeing a lot of people interacting with it was just amazing.

Rob

How did you get that contact? Did you just approach them?

Takuma

I was working in a company for three months. When it came back to Japan, I had to find a place where I could earn money. My friend asked me to join their startup – it was a web startup. I joined there for three months. The boss of that company met the boss of Studio 4D, she saw my portfolio and she was interested in me personally. That was the reason I quit that company and started working freelance.

Rob

Do you do coding as well? 

Takuma

No not at all. I can’t text code at all. I tried, I’ve been working with VVVV, which is basically coding, but it’s note based. People tell me that I should be able to code, but when I start coding, I just don’t want to see it.

Rob

Yeah. I’ve found that with the coding stuff that I’ve approached. I code for the web. And I’ve just about got my head around that. But when it comes to creating something visual, it just seems that it should be visually created, you know?

Takuma

Are you more into visuals or web? 

Rob

My business is web design, but my hobby is in visuals.

Takuma

Right now I’m trying to build my portfolio, and it’s really hard.

Rob

What would you like to change about it?

Takuma

I have a lot of projects that I don’t have on there, and those are the cool ones. I work a lot with Nike Japan, so I have some work that I can show that I did with them and it looks really great. I just don’t get motivated by my website right now. I was listening to this podcast from, uh, GMunk. He said that he uses his website more as an archive. So it’s more like a diary.

I’m doing a lot of daily stuff on Instagram and I want to keep posting my website like my blog.

Rob

How important do you think that’s been to your progress as an artist?

Takuma

Oh yeah, it was really something. Until that, I was using VVVV more to design interactive installations. Whenever someone asks me to do something, I start working on VVVV. But for daily stuff, I had to think of what kind of graphics I’m going to make, and then I had to start building stuff. I had a lot of learning with it. I was using tools that I usually don’t use, or when commission work comes, I don’t have time to try out. I try to use something that I used before, but with daily stuff, I try to use different stuff every time. 

 

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A post shared by Takuma Nakata (@takuma.nakata)

Rob

So after the interaction design in the Netherlands, you did media philosophy in Kyoto, right?

Takuma

Yes I did. That was really great. The first reason I chose that university was just that my grandpa wanted me to graduate. I tried to move back to the university that I quit, but they said I couldn’t go back because three years had passed. I had to find a different school.

That was the cheapest course I could do. The teacher was really nice – she was the curator at MoMA for some years before her teaching career. I got into media philosophy and started learning that by myself and I graduated with that.

Rob

What is media philosophy? What does it cover?

Takuma

Well, I think it started with Marshall McLuhan in 1964. He wrote this book about how media extends to your body. After that, there were a lot of people saying how media could change your way of thinking. It’s about the technology. Like how display changes, or how words change your life – from radios or TVs, things like that.

Rob

Looking into the future there’s a lot of stuff on the horizon. There’s a lot of changes that are going to happen. With this crisis, how do you think that’s going to change your work and the way you think about it?

Takuma

That’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Immersive experiences and physical interactive installations are not something we can do right now. For a few years, they’re not going to happen. Right now, I’m trying to think about what I can do remotely, or even virtually. 

Rob

I’ve noticed you’ve been doing a lot of stuff with Unreal Engine and game engines. Are you looking at virtual reality experiences?

Takuma

Not really. I’ve been playing around with virtual reality for a long time. Since the first version of Oculus got released, I’ve been playing around since then. But I don’t see any potential in VR being something that everyone’s going to have for themselves. It’s something that brings you a different layer, so for gamers, it’s good, but for casual people who like to go to the beach or things like that, I don’t think it’s going to fit for them. It’s just too heavy and it’s very limited. I know you can do it with a smartphone, but even with that, it takes time to set up everything. I can’t stay long in the virtual reality world. If there’s augmented reality, I don’t see any reason that VR will be the leader. 

Rob

So you think augmented reality is going to be the main thing?

Takuma

Yeah. For me, it’s more interesting to see how people interact with the real world and the virtual world. So augmented reality interests me more than virtual reality.

Rob

Yeah, it’s a nice way of visualizing. I’m really interested in it personally, the VR side of things. I think pretty soon we won’t be using phones. 

So what have you been exploring then? If you can’t do physical spaces, what are the options?

Takuma

I’m still interested in doing things within physical space, so I’m not going to get rid of that. I still have a passion to see how people interact with my work. But on the other hand, I always had this idea that I wanted to create the entire atmosphere. That’s what I’m trying to do by learning Unreal Engine. I haven’t finished improving my skillset, but I’m trying to combine mega scanned real life with Unreal Engine. You can simulate real-life landscapes. It actually looks real.

Rob

So with mega scans, it’s using photogrammetry, right? To scan real-world environments, and make 3D models out of them.

Takuma

Yes. I’m playing with that and trying to make a natural atmosphere, and then I’m trying to bring my generative or procedural visuals into a render engine, so that I can design my own installation. I’m trying to stay as a visual artist using video, because I started with video and I really love watching music clips and things like that with motion graphics.

Rob

At the moment, are there any other artists that you look to for inspiration, or are you just focusing on your own work?

Takuma

I do watch a lot of work from others, people who were big before COVID 19. One artist called Refik Anadol is one of my favourite artists. What he released on Instagram recently was really interesting for me. He posted this image with cars and his visuals, like a drive-in theatre. 

I like it a lot, but we don’t have a huge amount of space in Japan, so doing these kinds of things is never as easy as in the United States. I was surprised to see one that happened in Korea, where they actually did it inside.

Rob

So a lot of his work is data-based. They’re taking inputs from the wind or different data sources. Is that something you do with your work or is it more artistic?

Takuma

Not really. He’s into data sculpture, that’s his style, but I’m not going to follow his path. I spent some time trying to figure out what my interest is with Daito Manabe, who’s a Japanese artist. I think he’s one of the most famous media artists in Japan. He did this face electricity thing, where you can copy your face movement to the others. 

He also did the closing reception for the Rio Olympics. That was directed by him. I had him as a mentor and we were trying to figure out what an artist statement could be for someone like me. We had a lot of talks, trying to figure out what I’m interested in, and how we could make that. 

Rob

How important do you think that is to have an artist statement for the work you’re creating?

Takuma

I think it’s really important, at least for me, I’m not sure if it’s important for everyone. Like if you have an artist statement, you can specify what kind of work you’re interested in and also spend some time thinking okay, what am I interested in? What am I not? The reason I applied for the Adobe creative residency was also related to that because I was just saying yes to all the work that came in because it was fun, but I realized that I was complaining quite a lot. I wasn’t sure why I was saying that kind of stuff. 

Starting to write this artist statement made me realize that there are certain things that I’m really into and ones I’m not. So whenever clients ask me, I ask myself whether it’s something related to my artist statement. If it’s not, not only myself but my client gets unhappy. Because they’re asking someone who’s not interested in that topic to be working on it. 

Rob

I guess that’s a bit of a luxury, isn’t it? Because when you’re starting out, you have to just take what you can and figure it out. And you don’t know either when you start. You don’t know what you enjoy.

Takuma

Yeah. I think it’s a process. I’ve been working as a freelance for five years already, so I’ve found that it works for me now. But when you start, you don’t have the choice, right?

Rob

With the freelance stuff, would you then go into a company? Is it for an agency or is it for directly with a client?

Takuma

Oh, yeah. I have both options. I do have an agency called Cekai and they’re the one taking care of the office that I’m using right now.

Rob

How do you structure your approach to your work? Working for yourself, it can just drift off and you’ve got to be very motivated. What helps you to plan and structure? What’s your approach to that?

Takuma

I try to specify my time. I try not to just say, okay, I’m going to start working from now. It doesn’t work like that. I decide to work from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. And then I decide what time I’m going to have lunch and things like that. I specify almost every hour of my day. When I start my work, I start writing in the diary and specify what kind of things I’m going to do today. And then when I’m done, I just delete them. At the end of the day, I write down what wasn’t done and then what I should do tomorrow and things like that. I try to construct my day as much as possible. 

Rob

Would you mind talking me through some of your projects? 

Takuma

Yeah. So last year I did this work in India, together with Adobe. I made this interactive installation called Walk, which was basically using machine learning to detect people walking in front of a huge led screen. I made all of them in VVVV. I live in Kyoto, it’s a quiet cultural city. Whenever I go to Tokyo or New York, I get surprised by how many people are walking through the subway and things like that. I thought it would be really interesting to detect them and use them as a medium to draw on a surface. To do so, I had to avoid using Kinect kind of sensor because it only detects a few people. Instead of that, I decided to implement machine learning, which can detect multiple people at the same time.

Rob

So you can take a video source and then track it from that. How was that? Was it all premade?

Takuma

No, everything was in real-time. I made it work in the GPU

Rob

In terms of machine learning, how did you learn?

Takuma

Well, I didn’t know about machine learning until I started that project. Machine learning has two processes. One is the learning process. And the second is the reflex process. Learning happens before, and then after all the learning is done, you use that library and put that in your system so it works in real-time. So when I have my installation on, it’s not learning anything.  

Rob

So you train it and then it performs.

Takuma

Yes. So during my installation, nothing was learning.

Rob

Is that the first time that you’ve used AI?

Takuma

Yes. It took quite a lot of time for me to learn actually. I really can’t read code and most of that stuff is done by Python or like things like that. So it was really hard, but the community helped me a lot. The VVVV community is super flexible and open to all questions.

Rob

So that’s the main software that you’re using, VVVV and Unreal?

Takuma

Yeah. Unreal Engine.

Rob

Have you done any 3D scanning of environments yourself?

Takuma

Yeah, I do have a 3D scanner with me. I have a computer called a Sprout Pro, which is made by HP, as I got sponsored by them for that kind of equipment. It’s a tabletop 3D scanner, so you can scan things that are around the size of your hand.

Rob

So you just put objects into it, and it runs the camera around and scans?

Takuma

That’s the cool part. With this scanner, you just have to move your object and there’s a camera mounted on top. I think it’s one of the sensors from Intel. You have to move the object below and you can see in real-time that it’s all getting scanned.

Rob

And what kind of quality does it work at?

Takuma

It’s super dense.

Rob

Does it work well with transparent objects? So if you use a diamond or something?

Takuma

It’s using infrared sensors so no, not at all.

Rob

I think I’m going to use that on a project. 

Takuma

You can go to Amazon and find it for like $800. The one that I had was the old one. This one is a desktop implemented one, but recently they released a USB thing. That one is not too expensive and it’s really powerful. When I got that, I was trying to scan all the stones I had. I have a garden in my office and was scanning all of these huge stones. 

Rob

What was the Adobe creative residency like?

Takuma

So the creative residency is a year-long program where Adobe supports creatives to build their career. We had nine people. It’s been there for like five years. The first time I think it was one or two, last year there was nine. This year because of COVID they had way less people, I think there were only two. But then they started a funding program, which you apply for with your project, and then Adobe will fund it. At the beginning of my residency period, we had a lot of classes learning how to use social and how to engage with the community, and also speaking training and things like that. We learned a lot of the basics at the beginning, and then it was up to us. You think of your own project that you want to do and Adobe give you the opportunity to talk or design an installation. It was just really amazing.

Rob

Yeah, it sounds like a brilliant opportunity.

Takuma

Yeah. And you get one entire year supported by Adobe. So you don’t have to care about your money or living, it’s all supported by Adobe. And it all happens remotely, so you don’t have to be in San Francisco.

Rob

Did you go there?

Takuma

We went there three or four times maybe. But for the rest, I was just staying in my office and doing my stuff. It is a really cool project. Getting support from Adobe already sounds pretty awesome for those who are using Adobe tools.

Rob

Do you do 3D stuff in Cinema 4D or any other 3D programs to model?

Takuma

I do use Cinema 4D – I started with motion graphics so I used to do a lot in after effects and Cinema 4D. 

Rob

What’s the community like in Kyoto? In terms of the creative community.

Takuma

It’s not that big. I think it’s more about the identity of the people in Kyoto. Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan. I think British people have the same outlook – it’s a good place to work on your own. It’s quiet and there’s no community thing happening. When I was living in Tokyo, there were too many community things happening. So you get busy meeting people and forget to make your own stuff, but in Kyoto, nothing is happening. So you can actually concentrate on yourself. 

Rob

You’ve got that amazing bamboo forest there. Arashiyama.

Takuma

Have you been here?

Rob

I have. I cycled through there. I love it as a city.

Takuma

Yeah. It’s a really nice cultural place. I mean it’s really quiet. Whenever you feel like you want to see something, you can. I love cycling, and you go to the mountains and you find a temple, like a really quiet temple inside the forest. 

Rob

It’s a great place to live I think. A great place to be an artist as well, because you’ve just got nature on your doorstep. Here I have to cycle for quite a while before I find any of that.

Takuma

Where are you based?

Rob

I’m in Shoreditch at the moment, in London. Before this, I was in Amsterdam. I was working for a startup accelerator there, and then I did a stint in Barcelona as well. Barcelona is a great city, and a good creative community as well.

Takuma

I feel there’s some relation or similarity between, Japan and the UK or London. I feel that the mentality is similar. The UK is also not as worldwide, or open. In Japan, a lot of creatives are basically locals and there’s a lot of interesting things happening, but they don’t really care about the global community. 

Rob

So quite inward-looking?

Takuma

Yes. I think the UK also has a similar thing. When I’ve started following artists in the UK. I see a lot of people more concentrated on their work rather than opening up and making something similar to the others. 

Rob

I guess that’s not a bad thing, right? Because you want that diversity in the artwork? There’s always a danger if you end up copying other people that your work will just become like theirs.

Takuma

Yeah, but in terms of working, it’s better if you follow someone else’s path and change a little bit, and a little bit until you reach that.

Rob

So it’s like you’re building off the work of other people rather than starting from zero again?

Takuma

Yeah. So if you go to, for example, Instagram, there’s a lot of people doing something similar to others, but in a way it’s good because if you’re working in the worldwide market, there are a lot of people looking for similar work. If I see work from the UK, there are a lot more things that inspire me than what I see from different parts of the world. 

Rob

Yeah. It’s different stuff, rather than more homogenous work. I guess it’s the difference between commercial and more artistic work.

Takuma

I feel that there are more artistic things happening in the UK. I was wondering why that is. 

Rob

That’s a good point. It’s kind of hard to say – I haven’t necessarily noticed that. I think maybe because we’re an island where we’re naturally more insular. 

Takuma

That’s what we have as well. When I was talking with my German friend, she mentioned that in Germany, design is something very traditional, with Bauhaus, etc. So when you’re working as a graphic designer in Germany, it’s very straight. There is a path that you have to follow. So when she sees Japanese designers, she feels like they’re more artistic because they don’t really care about what happened in the design industry in the past. And when you’re working with clients, they don’t specify what kind of graphic design they want, they rely on your artistic work rather than logical design.

Rob

So you think that in Japan, designers are much more like artists, rather than like engineers?

Takuma

That’s what German people say. But then I get that point. When I see German art, it’s basically split into two, art and design. When it comes to the design industry, people are more strict on the rules, whereas when it comes to art, it’s totally different in what the design is. 

Rob

I guess in Japan, maybe it’s kind of blended, right?

Takuma

Yeah, it’s kind of blended.

Rob

Which do you prefer as an approach?

Takuma

It’s really hard to say. My motivation is always seeing something different, or something that we’ve never seen. On that point, things from Japan inspire me more, but on the other hand, if you’re in Japan and seeing all the Japanese things, they’re all the same. If I see something from the UK, It inspires me a lot.

Rob

I’ve noticed Japanese design tends to be a lot looser, and a lot more textural, with a lot of layering. It tends to be less bold and more subtle, with more calligraphy-based stuff. I wonder if that’s maybe the exposure to nature versus industry.

Takuma

Yeah. I also think it’s something related to the language. People here don’t really care about contracts.

Rob

Okay, so it’s much more about a verbal contract. I think Japan’s got quite a high-level trust within its framework. Interacting with people where they were not very trusting initially, but once you got their trust, they were super trusting. So if you’re a stranger, they’re not very open to you because that contract doesn’t exist. There’s not necessarily a legal contract in place for that interaction. So that verbal contract has to be kind of earned. What’s the effect on artists as a result?

Takuma

Living in Japan, if you’re good at talking to people, or if you’re friendly enough to interact with someone else, it’s actually quite easy to live, because contract is based on relation rather than paper. If you want to work worldwide, it’s good because then you have this sort of strangeness that grew in Japan, and doing strange stuff in Japan, it’s quite easy to earn money from it. So if you then have a strategy to go out from Japan and show your stuff, and if that works well with foreign people, then you get your attention.

But, on the other hand, a lot of things are happening in Japan. So if you try to export that, it’s hard. If you’re a designer and trying to work in Europe, like Germany, if you go there and try to show your graphic design, they’ll say that it’s not a graphic design thing, it’s more like an illustration. 

Rob

Yeah, I’ve had that. In Amsterdam, I went to a studio and showed them my work and the guy told me this is not graphic design. This is more marketing than graphic design. I was like, okay, you don’t need to be a snob about it. 

Takuma

In the UK is contract a big deal?

Rob

From my approach for freelancing, there’s a verbal agreement. If you agree to something over email and you have it written down on paper, then that technically is legally binding. With client projects, I’ll usually get them to sign a contract, and it’s just one that I’ve kind of drafted up which basically states all of the different clauses of the interaction and what could happen. If they don’t pay you as a result of that, then there’s a legal system you can take them through. 

Takuma

Does that actually happen?

Rob

I’ve never done it. I’ve never had to do it, but it’s good just to have it there, just in case. By putting it down on paper and making it official, it kind of brings everyone onto the same page and there’s no ambiguity. Have you had to do that with your work before? 

Takuma

I’m a person who actually does that quite a lot. Whenever I work with my client, I always have this contract at the beginning, so then nothing wrong happens. 

Rob

How do you create that contract?

Takuma

That is the problem. I don’t have any format in Japan. I know there is a format, but I don’t get it myself, so I have to think of what kind of contract I’m going to create. I do understand that people give up making it because there is no template. 

It will be a really good creative resource, but on the other hand, giving a contract to a client in Japan at the beginning often makes them feel like they would have a reason not to work with you. Most of the artists here wouldn’t.  Japanese artists don’t care about contract. People think artists shouldn’t talk about money.

Rob

Because it should be about the art, not the money.

Takuma

Yes, but it isn’t right? Like you need money for living.

Rob

Yeah it’s a romantic way of thinking about creativity.

Takuma

And it’s still big in Japan, as a mentality.

 

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A post shared by Takuma Nakata (@takuma.nakata)

Rob

So have you ever struggled to make your creative work commercial? Did that come naturally to you?

Takuma

Yeah. So whenever I’m making something that I’m not really interested in, I try to ask for more money than I would with more artistic work. Most of the time they don’t want to pay that much. So I get a lot of complaints that I ask about money a lot, but that’s because I need money to live if I’m going to work on something that I don’t really care about. Even if it’s Nike, if I ask them money for the right amount, they tell me I’m quite expensive.

Rob

But they still hire you, that’s the point?

Takuma

Yeah. That’s one trick that I tried to design for myself. It’s the reason I started working on Instagram and things like that. Whenever they think they need to ask me, then there’s no other option.

I try to spend a lot of time on research and development and try to develop something that clients would like to have. So when they ask me and say it’s too expensive, I can say you don’t have to ask me, but no one knows how to do that because I made it by myself. 

Rob

In terms of pricing your work, what’s your approach to that?

Takuma

I try not to make it too experimental. I always try to research how much other companies or other people in similar fields are asking for. 

Rob

How do you find that information?

Takuma

I know a lot of people in Japan, working in a similar field. Interaction design is not a big field, so it’s quite easy to ask and they’re all open. We meet up sometimes to talk and we ask about money and things like that. So it’s quite easy to get all the information.

I also try to keep myself open, like everything I learned from my Adobe residency, I try to share it with people in the community so they can do that kind of stuff. If I keep myself open, others keep themselves open to me as well. Also, when I design an installation. For example, I did an illumination in 2019, designing and directing everything, and I asked some freelance friends to help me and I tried to pay them more than they usually get from commercial clients. That’s one motivation for myself. 

Rob

So visual music is basically thinking about the visual realm with a musical approach, taking the abstract principles of music, and applying it to a visual space. There were a lot of very early pioneers in animation and film – people like Walter Ruttmann. They were thinking about the structures within music; the rhythms, the notes, the timbers, and then trying to translate that into a visual space.

Paul Klee as well, the American artist. He had a background in music as his parents were musicians. You see a lot of grid stuff within his work, each of those grid points represented a musical note, the colors becoming the symphony. It’s trying to capture music within the visual space. It’s the foundation of audiovisual performance, but it’s more abstract in that it’s trying to be non-representational. In a similar way to how music is purely abstract for the most part. You’re trying to create abstract visuals that perform in a similar way to music.

I did my dissertation on that and trying to break down the principles of visual music, thinking about all the ways in which a sound and image can interact and being quite systematic about that – thinking about shape, color, form, texture. All of these different parameters and then imagining how they could be mapped onto different musical parameters, such as pitch, rhythm. Within a club performance space, they’re doing it instinctively, but they haven’t really got a systematic approach to how these things work. I was fascinated with that really, just trying to get a deeper understanding of the two spaces and how they interact together. 

Takuma

It’s interesting because I have a background in motion design and have a lot of friends who are actually working in the motion graphics field. We talk a lot about that as well, motion graphics is basically about making audio an abstract thing. The process is very similar, but because it’s more based in visual, they tend to care more about the shape rather than the audio. When it comes to the audio they care about if it fits or not. So it’s really abstract.

Rob

Everyone comes at it from their own perspective. I’m always interested in seeing musicians that come into audiovisual performance because they have a fundamentally different approach in terms of their training and their mindset, so the visuals that they produce are much more musical in a way. People that come at it from a visual space to then producing music. It’s kind of two sides of the coin, you know?

Takuma

I haven’t really followed the other side, visuals to music. I know a lot of people from who work from music to visual like the Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda, he’s doing a lot of audiovisual performance and he’s based in audio. His performance is really primitive and the way he visualizes synthesizers is really cool.

Rob

For me, it’s just mapping out the territory and kind of having an awareness of all the different spaces that are possible. And then being systematic about that so that you can see where to go. I think a lot of people are just blindly creating stuff. 

Takuma

I think it’s really important for someone like you to map that kind of stuff because a lot of the information is still split and it’s really hard to follow, but it’s a really important way of thinking – how to visualize audio or maybe the other way around.

Rob

Why do you do what you do? Is it just purely for enjoyment? What drives you or motivates you?

Takuma

Good question. I’m basically interested in landscapes. When I do generative stuff I’m trying to think in terms of a landscape – trying to generate a new kind of view or phenomenon. I’m trying to bring that virtual scene and generate that as if it’s existing there. 

Rob

So it’s great creating new worlds, right? 

Takuma

Yeah. It is about creating new worlds, but I don’t want that work to stay in the virtual world. I want to bring it to the real world. 

Rob

That’s interesting. So taking virtual worlds and bringing them back. That was kind of the idea behind my company’s name Farside.

Thanks!

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