future sound + future vision, week 1, day 4

Upon arriving at Launch Pad Gallery in the sweltering heat on Marine Day, I had no preconceived ideas about what I was going to do.  I walked into the space and saw that the works had proliferated even more in the gallery space with all the walls filled with works as well as the floor and objects hanging from the ceiling. 

I went over to my works from the first two days and took in what I had made as I cooled down from the walk from the station.  I ultimately decided to scrap the collage I made with paper remnants and the double sided tape holder.  From there, I grabbed the two bags of materials that I brought and stored at the gallery and my eyes were drawn to the roll of cotton muslin which I had originally bought to try and cover the walls of Sawatari Gallery last year.  I began cutting the muslin into curved forms similar to what I did with the paper on Saturday and started drawing directly onto them with my Daily Drawings vocabulary.  The marker pens were wider and the muslin offered a challenging surface to draw on so the marks were looser and larger.  I then took these muslin forms and started wrapping the large paper form with them.  I tried to respond anew with each form to the last form and the large paper form.  After four or five forms, I ventured into my bag and pulled out the paper samples which I got for the Takeo Paper Show at Spiral Hall earlier this summer.  I had been using these as supplemental materials for my Remnants of Memory collages, but seemed to be at a wit's end with them.  I began cutting the different paper materials and colors into long linear forms which I then wrapped around the large paper form.  In the early going, the color paper wrapped into the form started to look like a bad rendition of the Tokyo subway/train system which I quickly remedied with some colors which are not normally part of my palette.  After a couple hours of working while talking with visitors and other artists, I ended up with this form.


Marcos Fernandes organized a Sound Walk event for Monday at 3 pm, but the sweltering heat and sun led to a delay in the start of the event in hopes of clouds and slightly cooler weather.  With the extra time, I decided to return to the wooden blocks and paper.  I started to pile blocks in various configurations and attaching them together with wood glue.  I then took the forms and attached them to a piece of paper.  At first, it resembled an abstract architectural model which I quickly moved away from by creating a circular form in three-dimensions.  I also added tendrils of wood blocks extending from the circular form before starting to draw on the wood blocks and paper.  I did not get too far along before the start of the workshop.


Marcos gave a wonderful and easy to understand explanation about phonography as well as the various recording devices, microphones, data forms and applications used in phonography.  For me, the binaural and contact microphone quickly went up onto my wishlist.  One of the great things I learned was the ability to use my digital IC recorder to make field recordings AND simultaneously listen to the recording through earphones.

From there we prepared for our sound walk and Marcos gave me a chance to try out the binaural microphone which he attached to a pair of crossed chopsticks and we set off around the neighborhood to see what we could discover.  The ability to listen to the recording simultaneously provided an all together different experience of walking around the streets that I had been traversing this past long weekend.  My ear buds blocked out most of the ambient background noise while the narrow diameter of the binaural microphones allowed me to pick up very specific noises in the environment.  I was particularly intrigued by the ability of the microphone to pick up high pitched sounds of birds or wind chimes in the distance.  I also used the binaural microphone to make field recordings of everyday activities like buying a bottle of water from the vending machine.  I also placed the microphone in the narrow gaps between buildings to use the structures as echo chambers to see if I could pick up unusual sounds.  If I thought I looked conspicuous taking photographs of Interstices, making field recordings was even more conspicuous.  As a group, we elicited various puzzled glances as we searched high and low for nature and man-made sounds.

After returning to the gallery about half an hour later, we learned about some simple ways of manipulating the sound walk files with the Audacity program and listening to portions of each other's sound walk files.  With the start of the work week upon me, I packed up all my materials and headed out in the evening haze back home.  As I tried to stay cool on the train ride home, I thought about all the different ways that participating in this exhibition has created new possibilities.  I am particularly excited about taking this experience forward as I prepare for my field research presentation for the MULPA project with the Chigasaki City Art Museum.

future sound + future vision, week 1, day 2

I woke up on Saturday morning with the intent of trying something different from day one, so the first thing that I did was pack a different set of pens.  I usually use the brush pens, but started to wonder if using them on the balsa wood was taking an unnecessary toll on the brushes.  I also knew that I wanted to work with paper on day two using a stack of paper remnants that I used for the VF16 and VF17 printmaking exhibitions.  Instead of the brush pens, I brought my 48 color set of Faber Castell marker pens with me. 

I arrived at the gallery and saw a proliferation of works on the wall as well as on the floor.  I had spent the entire first day working on the floor and that took a toll on my lower back, so I decided to take up residence on a stool for the second day.  I pulled out paper and began cutting them in to long and curved forms which I then curled, twisted into new forms attaching different portions of the form together with double-sided tape.  Each of the forms was about 6 x 6 x 6 cm and I began creating more and more forms and then attaching the modules to each other to create a larger form.  The final form reached a size of about 40 x 40 x 40 cm which I placed on the floor.  While working on this form, a steady stream of artists came into the space to continue or begin the works while listening to the sound work files that Marcos had put on.


At the suggestion of a couple of artists, I decided to hang the form from the ceiling.  The paper I used was rather thick and the tight curls and rolls that I used added tension to the forms which could not be sustained by the 100 yen shop double stick tape.  Over the course of an hour, the form started to become unglued with modules dropping away from the form onto the floor.  Eventually, I decided that piece was better left on the floor.  I reconfigured the modules and ended up with this form. 

My next sketch was to make another form using different sharp angled edges, almost star-like.  Barely two forms in, I decided that it was not working and started drawing on one of the forms, but in complete dissatisfaction crumpled the two forms up and started over.  By that time, the cardboard holder for the double sided tape had completely fallen apart and the floor around my stool was littered with paper remnants from the cut curved forms.  In the vein of my Remnants of Memory collage project, I used the paper remnants and the cardboard holder for the double-sided tape to create this.

Throughout the afternoon, the space was quite lively with eight artists working at one time for several hours and more artwork filling up the space.  As the afternoon turned to dusk, there were still four or five artists working in the space.

With the live performance of Still-Life coming up at 6 pm, I had little less than an hour left after finishing those two sketches.  I settled down on a stool and started making a pair of drawings using my marker pens while consciously responding to the sound work files through color choice, type of mark-making, and speed of mark-making which resulted in these two drawings.

Still-Life, which consists of a pair of artists,  set up their performance space on the gallery floor and laid out a variety of everyday objects as well as an intriguing wooden box which kind of looked like an accordion (you can see a portion of it in the left hand corner of the image below.


Artists were invited to make work during the course of the performance much like we had been doing with the sound work files.  I grabbed a piece of paper and put my marker pen set next to me.  It was a very meditative and minimal performance using objects as percussion and wood instruments while also running taped sound works or radio frequencies during the course of the performance.  I did my best to respond to the sounds quickly and adapt with changes in sounds and feeling.  I ended up with a rather chaotic drawing that was full of colors and unfinished forms.  For those you interested in seeing the end result of this drawing, you will have to come to Launch Pad Gallery to see it!

After the performance, Still-Life talked a bit more about their project and process and we were also able to ask questions about the objects that they used.  The wooden accordion-like box turns out to be a shruti box with origins from India.  I ended up picking up one of their CD's which I uploaded to my computer and have listened to while doing work, trying to keep one ear focused on the sounds generated from the duo.

By this point in the evening, I knew I was finished for the day.  I put up my drawings and rearranged some of the pieces and headed back home after a very satisfying second day at Future Sound + Future Vision.


future sound + future vision, week 1, day 1

With the start of Future Sound + Future Vision happening last Friday, I spent the latter part of last week gathering materials that I wanted to use for the exhibition.  Over the last six years, I have accumulated a surplus of materials that resulted from my anxiety about running out of necessary materials at the last minute in preparation for an exhibition or project.  There is nothing worse than running out of a specific type of hook at 2 am on Sunday morning when the installation takes place at 9 am.  With almost no storage space left in my studio, I was happy to begin the treasure hunt for materials to bring to Launch Pad Gallery and I was not disappointed!

There are balsa wood blocks from the 2013 Setouchi Triennale, paper, string, and glue from the Tokyo Art Book Fair, and cotton fabric from the Nakanojo Biennale as well as some of my current favourite materials.  

Arriving at Ishikawacho in the sweltering 35˚C summer heat, I headed over to Launch Pad Gallery along the canal with the expressway overhead buzzing with cars and trucks.  I arrived at the gallery to a largely empty space except for one painting leaning against the wall on the ground.  There were stools lined along the walls with a listening station as well as various recording devices on the table.  Two speakers were pointed into the gallery space with sounds being played from a mixing station on a large table at the back of the gallery.  Two visitors/artists were sitting in the middle of the space talking with one of the gallery directors.  

As I cooled off, I sat down on the floor against the wall and on the side of the air conditioner and began to unpack all my materials.  I knew that I wanted to work with the balsa wood blocks as a starting point so I unpacked those first along with my brush pens.  In the background, various sound works were being played through the speakers.  These sound works are field recordings that are either processed or unprocessed and resulting from sound walks in which artists capture sounds from the natural and urban environments in a practice known as phonography.  Marcos Fernandes is well known phonographer and organiser for Future Sound + Future Vision.  During the gallery hours, sound works are being played through the speakers as inspiration, source material, or background sound for the artists to make work in response to.  Sometimes the response is conscious, while at other times the response is unconscious.


As I walked with the visitors, I began to fuss with the wood blocks getting a feel for them again.  I grabbed one of my brush pens and started to draw on cube block to get going.

The contrast between the dark wood flooring and the balsa wood blocks made the floor a natural working surface.  I began to play around with the blocks, piling them on top of each other in a Jenga / house of cards manner.  The lightness of the balsa wood allowed the individual blocks to vibrate due to the air conditioner.  As I built up piles of blocks, they would repeatedly tumble from the cool air blowing from the air conditioner.  

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This pile of wood blocks became the starting point of the first "sketch" I made.

Working around this pile, I began laying down various shapes of wood blocks and over the next hour or so, it began to take the shape of one of my Daily Drawings with the result being this.


In the spirit of experimentation, I took some images of the sketch and then sent the pile blocks tumbling and cleared my floor space.  From there, I began to make some more drawings on the wood blocks with my brush pens and noted the difference in the way the ink flowed on different faces of the blocks depending on the cut of the wood grain.  StudioDeanna and another gallery visitor were in the gallery while I was making these drawings and I invited them to draw on a block or two.


Here are the results from my second sketch after drawing on numerous wood blocks and playing Jenga / House of Cards with them.

After sending this tower of blocks tumbling, I noticed the strong late afternoon sunlight pouring in from the windows of the gallery and started arranging the blocks to create a pattern of shadows.


As I worked on the arrangement, I quickly realised that it was a race against time as I could see the shadows disappearing from the left side as the sun lowered in the sky.  A time lapse video would have been an interesting way to document this third sketch.

I decided to attempt one more sketch before taking a break and began building up a structure with the wood blocks including the ones with the drawings.  As I was on the tail end of finishing up this sketch, Kanako Iriguchi came to the gallery.  She is an artist that works with wood, modularity, and geometry.  I had see Iriguchi's work at the Artcomplex Center of Tokyo and then her solo exhibition at Jinen Gallery, but had not yet met her in real life though we are connected through social media.  She introduced herself and we chatted a bit as my hands continued to play with the wood blocks.  Knowing her work, I invited her to play around with the wood blocks and add to my piece or create something separately and happily, she accepted the invitation.  After about half an hour or so, this was the result of this collaboration.


Happy with the results of the afternoon, I took a break and got some food and drink.  Upon returning to the gallery, I took again took down this fourth sketch and began to start a new.  This time, the starting was a bit more difficult since I was quite happy with the results of the collaboration.  

I pressed on by making more drawings and playing Jenga / House of Cards with all the drawn upon wood blocks.

From there I decided to continue trying things that I normally would not try and grabbed the wood glue and string and ended the first day with this sixth and final sketch.


This piece is the only piece that remains from my first day at Future Sound + Future Vision and it sits on the ledge of the gallery window.  I made prints of all the other sketches and have installed them in the gallery space as documentation of the first day.  I left the gallery that evening satisfied with what had transpired and looked forward to day two.

from led's to arduino to artificial intelligence

Thinking all the way back to the fall of 2015, I was thinking about my exhibition for HAGISO in the spring of 2016.  One of the ideas that came to me during that time was the idea of creating sculptures from my receipt in the shape of a hemisphere.  Since my graduate days back at the beginning of the millenium, I have been collecting all my receipts with the idea of using them as source material for future artworks.  Admittedly, they have become more of a project in hoarding rather than anything productive creatively.  However, the receipts seem to be an important touchstone for me in my studio practice.


The initial idea I had for that exhibition was an interplay between my Memory Walks and these receipt forms which would have a one to one correspondence with the Memory Walks Drawings.  In addition to this interplay, I wanted to install LED lights underneath each of the receipt hemispheres and create a coordinated display of flashing and colors which was based in my daily spending.  As discussions developed for the exhibition, we decided that it would be too much information as well as work within the given timeline.

However, the interest in LED's led to a slow cooking interest into Arduino and the Maker movement.  Art Byte Critique organized a two day Arduino workshop at the beginning of 2017 where I got a taste of some of Arduino's possibilities.  Entering an entirely new space of learning and technology, the learning curve was quite steep.  Beyond acquiring endless volumes of texts and manual which sit unread, I have not been able to devote the necessary time and focus to delve deeper into that field.  I also think part of the challenge for me is to develop enough background knowledge in the field to have a stronger sense of what can be done so that it becomes more of a nature part of my toolbox.  Rather than thinking about how I can incorporate the technology into my work, I want to be thinking about how and if this technology can better express the ideas I am thinking about in my studio practice.

By the end of 2017, I found myself with a deep interest in science fiction, particularly dystopic and/or speculative stories.  Podcasts such as Alice Isn't Dead, Tanis, and Rabbits; movies such as The Arrival, Interstellar, Annihilation, and books such as the Three Body Problem Trilogy had me thinking about the future, time, consciousness, reality, and on and on. 

With all of that material, I began to think more about artificial intelligence and realized that my knowledge about the field was scant, if not, non-existent.  Predictive algorithms and Pepper seemed to be the extent of my knowledge.  But as I have been thinking about my Daily Drawings Project and my overall studio practice, I have a tingling intuitive sense that artificial intelligence might have some implications or practicality for me. 

While browsing through the SNS space, I came across a posting for the ALife 2018 Conference on Artificial Intelligence.  I decided rather quickly that this would be an opportunity that I could not miss.  So my summer holiday will consist of spending a week at the Miraikan listening to a wide array of topics about artificial intelligence.  Inspired by my registration, I spent the last month and half reading the book Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom which was a theoretical text about the implication of arriving at human level artificial intelligence and the super intelligence which is theorised to quickly follow the achievement of human level artificial intelligence.   Beyond the implications for technology, the possible implications and various scenarios are discussed.  Once through the book is insufficient, but I think it will give a small base of knowledge heading into the conference which starts on July 23rd.

The program and schedule for the five day conference was recently published and I have been looking through the itinerary and settling on which sessions to attend beyond the keynote speakers which include Rodney Brooks, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Hyejin Youn, and Elena Antonova.

I am most interested in discussions about the impact of artificial intelligence on society and the current state of artificial intelligence and where the researchers, philosophers, and artists see it heading in the future.   Other topics that I am going to check out are hybrid life, neurons, social dynamics, neural controllers, evolution and networks and information theory / information flow.  

I am looking forward to immersing myself in a full week of learning about the current state of artificial intelligence while mulling about how it might or might not play a role in my studio practice.