An exhibit named “Rhizomatiks inspired by Perfume” ended a successful session at the Hatsudai media art museum “NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC)” on October 20th. Its aim was the showcasing of the content of a unique project researched, developed and produced by “Rhizomatiks” for technopop unit “Perfume”.

Media art and interactive art appeared on the scene around the year 2000 as yet another platform to exploit leading-edge Japanese technology. So leading-edge in fact, that for years the technology went somewhat to waste- no one could come up with the concept, composition and expression to put it to full effect. As a personal thought, the mediocre works resulting were partly the cause of the genre’s standstill.

But recently we are seeing another surge in the attention over media art, thanks in part to governmental backing over culture/art strategies. Another possible acceleration factor is the tying in of media art with the entertainment field.

At the center of the storm is Rhizomatiks and in particular, one of its founders Daito Manabe. Acclaimed internationally as a new-generation media artist, Manabe and his unit’s leaps and bounds in the field are nothing short of spectacular. Their way of doing things is firmly grounded in technological research and development, demonstrating a reliability of performance that holds its own on increasingly bigger stages. This article takes a closer look at the man and the workings of his creative mind.

The Perfume project is often described as “A refreshing media art approach in the field of entertainment”. This critique seems to miss the mark. I would rephrase it as “Media art having one hell of a spree inside the mammoth vessel of entertainment”.

Can anyone forget the first time they saw the Electrical Parade at Disneyland? That was most likely the first taste that we all had of the “perfect dream” created at the hands of the world’s creme de la creme technicians.

Manabe says, “Disney is a group that puts the results of its research at specialized institutions to effect in the shape of movies and theme park attractions. They’re a truly incredible company. If you look up illumination radio control, the first thing you run into is details of the electrical parade. Rhizomatiks is a small team but in the last few years we have been expanding our schemes- entertainment, advertising, media art, research and development. The Perfume project had us involved in production of music videos, live concerts and websites. I’d say we work behind the scenes to help actualize ideas that Perfume and MIKIKO (choreographer for Perfume) come up with.”

Though he comes across as being the “brains” of the idol project as well as the maneuverer of its “organs” and “limbs”, his sights have already left Perfume and beyond into the realm of augmented reality. 

To be continued in 2/3.