An Interview with Noriko Matsumoto
Hello, Noriko. What is your background as an artist?
Let me introduce myself a little – I was born in 1980, graduated from Seian University of Art and Design in Kyoto, and then studied media design at the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Science (IAMAS) in Gifu.
In 2002, I began working on the creation of visuals for contemporary dance. I worked as an assistant for a Japanese production of the theatre play “IRIS” by the French choreographer Philippe Decouflé.
In 2003, I worked as a visual artist for the dance performance “Hidden Faces / Faces Cachees.” It was produced by the sound artist Aoki Takamasa and featured the dancer Jean-Baptiste André, who I’d worked with before on “IRIS.” This work was supported by the Yamaguchi Centre for Arts and Media (YCAM) in Yamaguchi prefecture and was played at YCAM and Morishita studio in Tokyo. Here’s a link to more information about the piece: http://www.ycam.jp/en/theater/2005/10/hidden-faces-faces-cachees-kak.html
Photos by Kenichi Hagihara, Takayuki Ito (YCAM)
After 2004, I developed theatre visual systems using network technology in addition to VJing and producing various media artworks.
In 2005, I worked as a programmer for the theatre piece “1×60” where I developed a program to analyze the expressive body movements of dancers on stage and also created various tools for expressive media in contemporary dance.
Photos by Ryuichi Maruo (YCAM)
Starting in April of 2007, I began working for the production company IMG SRC/NON-GRID as part of a team who do interactive design for experimental and innovative projects.
Can you tell me a little about the background of the “KureLife” project? I’ve never really seen anything like it that uses Max.
Kureha is a company that produces “KureWrap,” a plastic cling film used to keep food fresh. “Kurelife” is a campaign web site we developed for KureWrap that lets website visitors create their own original TV commercials by choosing and mixing from 200 different fragments. The website also lets users make the company’s advertising mascot “Kichinto-san” say the word that they entered from their computer onscreen. They could also broadcast their finished product and share the resulting TV commercial through blogs, or upload it to the popular Japanese video sharing website Nico Nico Douga with a single click of the mouse. So far, more than 9,000 people have made their original KureWrap TV commerials. MaxMSP and Jitter are used for all the parts of this to generate the voice and movies.
Wow. How does this work relate to your own personal work as an artist?
Well, it’s work for a client, so it’s not personal in that way. But since I’m always interested in ideas related to using new software and techniques that would let me use database systems and network technology, it was a kind of experimental or research project for me, as well.
Why did you decide to use MaxMSP in this particular situation?
One reason is that I had experience with using MaxMSP/Jitter to develop various ways of creating experimental video editing software on the server side, but the biggest advantage was that MaxMSP/Jitter is a dual-platform programming language for Macintoshes and Windows systems that gives me access to QuickTime movies in ways that I can integrate with databases, PHP, and Flash. I really appreciated being able to do the things I wanted. I’m really grateful that Cycling ’74 lets users like me work on the server side of things.
How did you go about making decisions about where to use Max?
I wanted to do something I couldn’t do with encoding modules like ffmeg, so I decided to take it as a challenge to do something new using Max. I’m also lucky to work with planners at IMG SRC/NON-GRID who love the challenge of doing new things, which I really appreciate.
What kinds of challenges did you have while working on this project?
Well, we were completely responsible for developing content for a commercial high-traffic website that a large number of people might be using, so I guess you could say that managing all of it was biggest challenge for us. We did have to pay particular attention to making sure the portion of the website that involved having the “Kichinto-san” character singing the words people entered ran smoothly.
Did it take you a long time to do?
It took about six months to finish the whole project. Of course, there were lots of good things and bad things along the way, but I’m really happy about what we did.
It’s often true that once you finish something that other people will use to make things; you discover that you see something you did not expect. Was this the case for you?
Of course! Internet space is not like a snobby museum – there are a million entrances and no one stops you from doing anything you want. I believe that human beings are always much more creative than engineers and programmers expect them to be. Since the project allowed people to upload their movies to the Nico Nico Douga video sharing website, some movies were copied and uploaded on other sites we never expected. But we didn’t stop them doing that and just let them go.
Are you working on any similar kinds of projects – either for you own work or work for clients?
Although it’s not really similar in style, we used MaxMSP/Jitter for another project called “LOVE DISTANCE”, a campaign web site for a condom maker. For this project, a couple in a long-distance relationship ran from two different places in Japan to meet each other. The couple was chosen from public applications. They met each other on a Christmas Eve and it was after 24 days since they started to run. GPS and acceleration sensors were used to make this real-time interactive documentary. MaxMSP/Jitter was used for the back-end system to broadcast them running for 1,000 km. We knew that we might have some technical problems related to receiving the images from where they were while they were running, so we developed a system which can analyze the images in real time and send information automatically from there.
(Interviewer’s note: Noriko is being a little bit modest, so it falls to me to mention that the “LOVE DISTANCE” campaign was not only a stunning piece of viral marketing, it also took a Gold Medal at the Cannes Lions 2009 International Advertising Festival.
For my own work, I have developed software with my friends that you can add programs on effect parts in MaxMSP/Jitter in a plug-and-play environment. In 2007, I also developed software for multiprojector displays that you lets you add tag information on each image to edit or output. It’s not really open to the general public, but if you’re interested in you can check it out from here – the project is called “DBV”: http://dbv.gabocoy.com/archives/cat_download.php
For more information and examples of Noriko’s work, you can visit her website: http://www.iamas.ac.jp/~q-03/
A special “Domo arigato” to Yuki Kameguchi for interview/logistics assistance and to Chiemi Isozaki for translation.