Reproducing The Process In Live: Interview Japanese Media Artist - Kazuhiro JO
Japanese media artist Kazuhiro Jo was studying acoustics in Kyushu Institute of Design (integrated into Kyushu University in 2003) for Master and later he was working in IBM in Japan as a software engineer. He realized that he was much interested in area of art. He began his Ph.D in Interaction Design at University of Tokyo and co-organized project “THE SINE WAVE ORCHESTRA” until now. Now, Kazuhiro Jo is working in his old school as well as at YCAM. The working environment of YCMA is very leisurely, but I can see how rigorous of projects going. During the interview, I comprehended the same attitude from Jo.
Why did you begin your interest in sound?
In my bachelor and master degree, they provided very special course on acoustic, so not music, but more like sound. Within the course, we have practiced of piano, and several ways of western turntable music, also various ways of distant signal processing... Most of course title is “sound with something” or “something with acoustic”. Maybe 70% of classes were related to sound. At same time, it was 90s in Japan and we were really active of club culture stuffs like doing a DJ and digging vinyls. I’m also part of that, so I spent most of my time and my needs for vinyls for digging (researching). So, I had a lot of records at that moment.
In the late 90s, it was a good time for the programming sound on the laptop. We just had Pure Data or Max/Msp. And, we had workshops, actually, at IAMAS - a Max/Msp workshop in 1999. I went there and met a lot of friends there. Then, we built up a community when we were young. As young people, no money, but we have a strong motivation to make sound with our laptops.
>>The SINE WAVE ORCHESTRA (2003-Now)
Team: Ken Furudate, Kazuhiro Jo, Daisuke Ishida, Mizuki Noguchi
As far as I understand from website of The SINE WAVE ORCHESTRA, it is a sound interactive project with people. Everyone is free to participate with their laptops, iPads or smartphones. The participant needs to choose a tone of sine wave and into specific area with other participant. You have worked on it for many years. What have been approached in this project? What kind of development in these years?
Basically, we have kinds of a rule and concept. For example, each participate plays a sine wave for each. Then, they make kind of cooperative sound and representation together. With that concept, sometimes, four of us have different opinions for our project, but, at least, I try to have diversities with a basic concept. At first, we just used laptops to make a sine wave and only some people who have experience with sound or programming can participate. Later, we wanted to open it for people who do not know sine wave or programming so we developed a device to generate and play sine wave. We set up an environment to let people to experience it. For example, in The SINE WAVE ORCHESTRA stay which we exhibited in open nature exhibition at NTT ICC in 2005, we set up a system to control the positions and frequency. We set up 160 speakers around exhibition environment. A room is without reverberation. Then, people chose their sine wave in the room, and leave her/his sine wave at that place. Firstly, there is no sound, but one person comes to edit a sine wave by the system. More and more people come, and the more sine waves were produced in the space. In the end, they create cooperated sound presentation.
The next exhibition of this project will be presented in YCAM next year.
Why only use sine wave?
As you know, the sine wave has just 3 parameters, frequency, amplitude, and phase. Even it is just 3 parameters, we still can keep diversity part, but it is clear and simple restriction to control.
Team: EYE Yamatsuka(Performance), Taeji Sawai(Sound / Programming) and Jo Kazuhiro(Instrument Design)
I am also interested on the AEO, a cooperated project you did. Could you describe about this project?
We started the project from 2003 and nearly finished in 2008. EYE is from Japanese noise band and as a performer in the team, Taeji use Max/Msp to design the sound. Taeji and I grouped up together in same Mas/Msp community, and Taeji knew EYE in the project. I made the instrument by I-cube and control with MIDI at first. At that time, we did not have Arduino. Then, Arduino shows up in 2005, but it did not fit our purpose, so we’re shifting to use audio interface to control all sensors with custom circuits for converting voltage. With this technique, we could get data from sensor with 24 bit resolution. Then, we mapped the data as parameter for the sound, for example, frequency, to make a sensor as a musical instrument. We did a performance in Fuji Rock Festival 2008. It is one of biggest rock festival in Japan. We feel that we have done that handmade DIY can be performed in that kind of stage, so it is time to finished.
>>Laser Cut Record experiment (2012- Now)
The concept is - making records without recording. It is quite simple that a standard record generates sound with vibration needle of record player. The vibration is changed into voltage. Then, voltage sends to speaker to make sound. To make a standard record is kind of opposite. However, in my work, Instead of using vibration from recorded sound, I decided to draw a groove as graphics. At first I also use plastic glass or wood with laser cutter, but it quite expensive for ordinary people, and I found paper also work very well with cutting plotter. The price of cutting plotter almost likes office printer. Later, I re-read some books and found out an essay from Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy in 1923. Almost 100 years ago, he wrote an essay which he would like to make a record without acoustic information. He had an idea to create a record just engraving grove directly. I tried to find out some result from him, but there was no result. And, I could say that I did his idea in particle way with recent technology like Adobe Illustrator and laser cutter. Over 100 year, I realized his idea in different way. We did another try out, instead of records, for example, speakers and so on..., some kind of printing or the stuff with IAMAS students as the “Re-Inventing the Wheel” project. And we presented our work in ICC last year.
After the understanding of Kazuhiro Jo’s works, I strongly feel that the time is involved, no matter in the constructing or rebuilding process of a work. For example, in “THE SINE WAVE ORCHESTRA”, the producing process is more important than the result of the work, b because audiences' fluid participation makes the sound become more and more plentiful over the time. Also, in the performance of “Laser Cut Record Experiment”, he presented all working flows of making a record, including drawing and modifying with Adobe Illustrator. Even the sound of printing is presented. From my point of view of Kazuhiro Jo’s art works, he makes audiences not only see the time, but also hear the time.
 YCAM (Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media) - http://www.ycam.jp/
 NTT ICC (NTT Inter Communucation Center) - http://www.ntticc.or.jp/