"POTENTIAL VISUALS": In Conversation with Shohei Fujimoto
By Xinping Lin｜ 22 July, 2022
Shohei Fujimoto is a Tokyo-based media artist who focuses on creative coding and light. From a primitive perspective, explores perceptual experiences of essential nature through attempts to concisely capture the data and facts behind phenomena and shapes, emphasize them, and complicate them. There is a perceptual experience with new properties, where minimal and organic (wild) properties overlap. Shohei is keen on mathematical formulas, and often uses these calculations to evoke fascinating works. He refers to code and the mathematical operations as the intangible marker that create form. Behind the imagery, "emergence" plays a powerful role in Fujimoto's works. Emergence refers to the existence or formation of collective behaviors — what parts of a system do together that they would not do alone. Nature holds many examples of emergence, such as a flock of birds forming seemingly complex patterns with no knowledge or intention from a single bird to produce such patterns. This theory of emergence is the process in which Shohei sets certain conditions to his code to create both minimal and intricate pieces of art that are the engine to his novelty.
The artist continues to try to generate virtual consciousness in the creative process, and then reflect on his view of the reality world, triggering a deeper sense of humanity in ourselves. Between real and virtual, the massive geometric lines engraved in the perceptual experience come from the traces of Shohei's life, and are digitally translated by the computer through the open source C++ toolkit "openFrameworks." Truly, these works can only be born from a system of emergence. While Fujimoto claims that the mathematical operations he employs are simple in nature, the visual output is often complex and deep. This accomplished and ever-ambitious A/V artist's work has been shown around the world, in galleries in Japan, Switzerland, Iran, Australia and the United States and MUTEK.JP, ARTECHOUSE NYC and Berlin Atonal. Finally, it's worth mentioning that Shohei made a stunning music video for the 30th anniversary of the legendary club Tresor.
power of one #distortion, 2021
Kiyoharu Art Colony – Museum of the Light, Yamanashi, Japan
Xin: Hi Shohei, thanks for joining us, it is a great honor that you have granted us this conversation. For an audience less familiar with your work, can you begin by explaining and exploring the principles of your practice?
Shohei: Currently based in Tokyo. I guide the potential information of objects and phenomena and visualize them from a primitive perspective. I make art without creating boundaries of media.
Xin: One project I would love to have experienced first-hand would be "power of one #distortion." The flowing light on the installation are very powerful, and the architecture that it took place in looked sensational. Can you tell us more about the symbolism behind your chosen name? Also, how important is the space to the work you do?
Shohei: The "power of one" series has been in creating since 2013. The main element is to use a laser. A laser is a lighting device that irradiates a single point of light due to its internal structure. From that one point, I'm trying to capture the concept. In "#distortion," the images of the projector and the laser are radiated from the back of the half-mirror hemispherical structure. The irradiated image is distorted due to the properties that exist inside the structure, and its morphology changes from moment to moment. The image that is distorted inside the structure feels like capturing the energy inside the physical structure. The distortion is digitally reproducible distortion that cannot be produced in nature, and produces an organic image from an inorganic structure. Focusing on distortion, I named it "distortion."
When you actually experience the installation, the audiences will appear on the hemisphere. Also, due to the nature of the hemisphere, the entire space behind the audiences is projected. The viewer can feel the boundary line with the world inside the hemispherical structure while recognizing the distorted image of yourself and the space.
intangible body, MRI sequence data, 2021
intangible body, MRI sequence data, 2021
Xin: How did you determine the scale of your large-scale audiovisual installation, like "intangible #form" presented at ARTECHOUSE NYC, is the scale of these installations determined by the curator, or did you set the scale of the installation from the beginning, can the same work switch naturally according to the space?
Shohei: The form is not defined in "intangible #form." The installation position and number of installations are decided according to the venue. Plan my thinking first, then make the final decision in consultation with the curator. In addition, the control system I made from scratch is designed to flexibly respond to the situation.
Xin: Can you explain what you intended with your work "intangible #form?" It's outstanding piece, and how did your cumulative audience respond to such a vast installation of sound and laser sequences?
Shohei: The length of one laser of intangible #form exceeds 10m depending on the height and depth of the ceiling of the venue. When you first see it, your body may react to the size of the installation itself, causing excitement without cause. I don't intentionally make heavy use of flashing or puzzle-like developments with a combination of lighting methods, and I try to move slowly throughout the sequence. When the audiences notice the complexity of the simple shape and movement, and the movement of the module itself that determines the angle of the laser, I think that we can get each viewpoint. I am wondering if the artwork will become a protocol and create a situation where the viewer can face each own perspective.
Xin: Large scale–small scale: your work constantly goes back and forth between these two dimensions, is there one format that is more challenging for you?
Shohei: The sense of creating a large scale or a small scale does not change, but depending on the artwork, it may not be easy to change the size due to the nature of the hardware. If you simply increase the scale of the artwork, the appearance of the work on the space and the meaning of the work itself will change. I think it's a good opportunity to simply increase(or scale up) it to find good errors that you can't predict.
density compression, 2020
Xin: You often work with musicians and sound artists, what is your approach to creating sound-based work? Do you have a thing within your audiovisual creative process which are of essential importance to you?
Shohei: In collaboration with sound artists, we discuss how to show audiovisuals and the concept, and trust and respect the sound artist's intentions regarding the content of sound. I like the cycle of repeating the positive perception of what is completed at that time.
Xin: Is building sound art installations in your future projects?
Shohei: It's a pity that I don't have a project to tell you right now, but I've been preparing for several installations to be shown this year. I plan to bring my installations all over the world.
Xin: Why do you take the open source C++ toolkit openFrameworks as your creative tools instead of TouchDesigner? What do you think of the relationship between you and creative coding?
Shohei: Perhaps if I just started to learn to make something, I would have mainly used tools such as Touch Designer(maybe). Of course, I use Touch Designer in some cases. I started with Action Script 3.0 and then started using openframeworks. At that time, I was fascinated by the artists and works that used openframeworks, and even now, 10 years later, I still use it as my main tool. It is important for me now to create a situation where I can do what I want to achieve at the speed I envision.
1 Line10000 Reflection, 2019
Xin: I saw you released your NFT work "intangible sample 32K" on SuperRare. Can you speak a little bit about it? What was your learning experience like with Crypto Art, was there anything that surprised you?
Shohei: "The intangible sample 32K" was created with the aim of leaving light like an insect specimen. The light reflection structure data simulated by programming was treated as Bezier data in Adobe illustrator, and finally it was made into a static image of 32K (17280x30720 px). There seems to be a limit to the resolution that human eyes can perceive on the display, but I'm thinking that this resolution is the alluring resolution that will work when technology evolves further when humans become flatter with virtual space in the future. I'm still not sure whether NFT is valuable artwork or not, but I am attracted to the fact that it focuses on the structure of the NFT platform (GIF and GLB can be posted) and that there is a place for works with impractical resolution.
Xin: 3D Art & AI Art has finally found a way to reach the levels of physical art, what are your opinions on this?
Shohei: After the pandemic, the chances of seeing 3D content (virtual tours, etc.) on a PC increased sharply, and I think it was a time when the resolution of 3D became higher. I felt once again that the platform not only creates a creative culture that uses the platform, but also creates new thoughts for me.
I have never created a work using AI myself(yet). I think that the essential aspect of AI-based work is to think about yourself (or human beings). Different things are seen by even the same human beings, and there are certain wavelengths of light that animals and insects can see. I think it is significant that the aspects of AI art works are linked to the imagination of oneself and others.
Xin: Do you often go to techno clubs in Tokyo? Which one do you recommend?
Shohei: I like WOMB and WWW in Shibuya, which actively offer audiovisual performance opportunities.
Xin: Thanks so much for sharing with us! I would very much love to invite your installations to participate in the future when we throw a party in Tokyo : )
Shohei: I'm looking forward to it happening. Thank you so much.
Tresor 30, Huey Mnemonic – Transmutation, Video by Shohei Fujimoto, 2021
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