Akira Miyanaga for Volt 2011
Last year I went to Japan, traveling around Hokkaido and Kansai. The trip was a part of my current art project, as well as a chance to check out the local VJ-scene. For Japanese VJs Kansai is a good place to be. Osaka boosts club-visuals connected to the big city nightlife, and neighboring Kyoto offers a more artistic approach, with smaller bars and galleries. In Kyoto I met up with my college Akira Miyanaga during his exhibition at Kodama Gallery. VJ Akira has a master degree in fine art and teaches at Kyoto Seika University & Kyoto University of Art and Design. He is also the co-founder of Gura Studio, where several artists live and work. Located in an old sake storehouse, this is a great place for inspiration as well as avant-garde house parties. I invited Akira to Sweden and on the 11th of June he will be performing at Volt festivalen in Uppsala. This is Akira’s first visit to Europe, so I hope that we all make him feel super welcome!
Interview with Akira
Martin: Please describe your VJ style. When and how you became a VJ?
Akira: I’d been studying video art at the university. Within that period, I’d been interested in experimental video work, animation whether artistic or commercial, motion graphics and so on. But musicians, mostly electronic and classical, also attracted me through their real-time effective performances. I didn’t have enough time to master playing instruments, and loved the moving image too much to switch to music. So naturally I started to focus on VJing. I usually VJ only with a Korg Kaptivator though I’ve been using a laptop and Motion Dive Tokyo or other VJ software. I always use clips made from live-action video footage, I mean heavily layered structure of high bit rate materials in the clips, and many video effects applied on, so inevitably they need very fast processing speed compared to simple flash videos, and often 3D computer graphics, regardless of compression format. The combination of laptop and software didn’t work well until few years ago and that’s why I use VJ hardware. Comparatively the Kaptivator have stability, and it enables me to intuitive VJ playing. But now I’m interested in VJing with software like Modul8, or Max/Msp/Jitter. It will be attractive to do multi-screen performance, and seek original ways to generate images.
Martin: Please describe the VJ culture in Japan. What is it like working as a VJ?
Akira: I think Japanese VJs have a high technical level. Fortunately we can get most devices and information. But few have solid concepts, cultural background, and originality. We have lower position than DJs, our visibility in the public is lacking. It can be said that the VJ culture is developing now. Some exciting approaches are done in the Japanese club scene like DOMMUN broadcasts real time performances on Ustream.
Martin: What do you think about the future of VJing in Japan?
Akira: The most important thing would be to find our original background, identity and approaches. That applies to every people living in this period. I’m not talking about technology. Too much relying on technology sometimes causes homogenization. The more homogenization go along, by globalization, the deeper we should know about ourselves or what our identity is. Then we would know what is worthwhile or lowlight.
Martin: Please suggest some Kansai clubs where you could find good visuals.
Akira: There are several clubs in Kansai but I like CLUB METRO the best. Not a big space but there is a mixture of pioneering atmosphere and the history as old-line club in Kyoto. In Osaka, I’m interested in CCO which is an art complex at the site of a shipyard.
Martin: What is your view on Swedish/European VJing?
Akira: Progressive. I respect the approach of AntiVJ. And I think visual mapping has great potential not only as decoration for city spaces but also restructuring people’s notion of landscape. It would be an exciting way of spreading the VJ culture among many people.