Preface Just after my studies at Elam in 2004, during the summer break, I was applying for MA at AUT to pursue art practice. (With BSc., Dip. Multimedia, and portfolio) I was attracted to it for reasons, including academic recognition and greater availability in support offered. Later, in February, I was offered a job at Saatchi & Saatchi as an interactive designer. Again I was attracted to remuneration offered. For both cases, I made my own decision. I decided not to take them. I decided to remain at Elam and continue my studies. The reason why I decided is because I was hopeful that nurturing myself at Elam would benefit me in the long run. I had guts feeling that I am in the right place doing the right things. It is frustrating at times, but I am certain that my year at Elam will be a good one. I am positive that I can take my own initiatives in my practice and investigations. Celebrating multidisciplinary practice I have long been confused about myself. Because I am many things. For example, I have a computer science degree, I program, yet I work as a designer, I have my business, I do my accounting, and I practice as an artist at school. I felt I was lost in the midst of all these names –it was like the old saying: “Jack of all trades, master of none”. (seminar on this topic was given by me at elam2004) However, slowly I am starting to see that I was the one who was putting the boundaries between different disciplines, even though I am the one who can benefit from my ability to move from one discipline to another and to communicate with people from different backgrounds. I had a great experience in Japan working with a large cooperation. I was able fulfill the task of designing and programming the sound reactive software (2004 TUANZ awards winner), because I had these qualities. I was also able to liaise between engineers and designers who had very different cultures because I could speak in both languages (of cultures). In 2004 I was part of the inter-disciplinary project called “Suriken” organised by Julainne Sumich and Bruce McDonald (Engineering). Our team was successful in creating unique, fun and engaging fun experiences using a simple robot. The communication between fine arts students and engineering students were smooth, as I was comfortable in both cultures. It is perhaps my moving to New Zealand at the age of 16 on my own that forced to me to be able to adapt to different cultures, languages, and practices, like a chameleon. As much as I find easy to move from one culture to another, finding myself in all of this is a hard one. This clash of culture, which was and still is a big obstacle in forming my identity, coincide with my multidisciplinary practice. I have a feeling that finding a balance between cultures and practices is a key in success, not only from a practice point of view but also from a personal identity point of view. Outside of art school, I am doing a paper offered by Business School called Innovation and New Product Development. This paper is taught by an engineering lecturer to mainly commerce students. Multidisciplinary minds are needed in various fields and places, and I should embrace it. I would like to keep investigating the culture of multidisciplinary practice this year. Combining of what may seem as different cultures bring synergy and new ideas. Interesting things occur in opposites and fringes or ideas. Beyond the combining, such notions as balancing these cultures/fields/disciplines need to be investigated. Also multi disciplinary practices bring us a question of being a generalist. There will be slow development of skills and techniques in specialised fields. One of many solutions for multi disciplinary practices is collaborations with people in specialised fields. I am also interested in working with such specialists. Art + Business and addressing wider audience I think it is important to become aware of the society that surrounds us. Being an artist in our capitalist society is not easy. But I believe artists should also embrace the system. I am positive that there are ways to keep being involved in art practices, and also make money. Such artist as Diller+Scofidio (USA), Neil Pardington (New Zealand), or multidiscipline practice of Antenna Design (USA - www.antennadesign.com) and Tomato (UK) impresses me. They are able to find a balance between commercial projects and art practice. They are able to engage in art projects that feeds ideas to commercial projects and vice versa. Because of their contributions in the art world, their clients are willing to trust their artistic approach in commercial projects. So, if I was very very rich, will I be just making art and doing no commercial projects? Probably my answer is no. I think this model of practice is beneficial not only from survival/money making point of view but also to talk to greater scope of audience. I also find it appealing to use artistic ideas in solving problems in society. In general, artists get little return or credits for their contributions to the society. Such people as advertising companies and designers are often using artists’ idea and making a lot of money. Perhaps more artists need to raise their hands and claim their ideas and contributions, to be recognized in the capitalist society we live in now. Of course, careful attentions need to be paid to distinguish commercial projects and artistic research. I believe art should not be entertainment. Again, investigating the right balance between commercial projects and personal research will be on going task in my practice. Projects areas for 2005 - Interaction experience The area of New Media, especially interactive art is interesting to me because I am able to find a balance between pure research and commercial application. (Perhaps like video art and film) It is also exciting because it is not flat, it is not linear. It is happening and engaging. Investigation of interface (such as GUI/Physical and more) as device and beyond is my strong interest area. I would like to create art works that challenge notion of interface. I am also attracted to my potential to be able to create what I want to create in this field. I would be lying if I am not aware of the art market’s demand for this area in New Zealand either. Whether I want to establish myself as an artist in this area, I see a potential for success. (big question is do I want to go that way?) - Design I have been involved in web design and other forms of design for some time now. I have no formal education in this area, I learned on the job, I learned from others, I learned from books etc. Though, there were times, I wished that I had a formal design education when I was working as a designer. I lacked certain knowledge or skills to be a good designer. In fact this was the initial reason why I came to Elam in 2004. I still hope to learn these skills at Elam. - Technology Although many artists view technology as just a tool, I see it more than a tool. I think it is a language in which certain emotion, experience or meanings can be expressed. One can think in code. One can create creatively thinking in code. But in order to get to that level, one has to be very good at understanding the technology or programming language. And to get to that level, I think I have to practice and learn a lot about technology. It may seem I am going in the other direction (from art practice), writing meaningless (but functional) lines of code, but at the end of it I think I will be able to express my creativity using well executed technology. (If I spent whole year trying to learn how to write a Macintosh application, you might think I have spent too much time being technical and you might fail me, but I might come up with amazing application for it in the following year!?) - Popular culture Popular culture is trendy and trashy. Many people who believe in the notion of “hi art” would argue strongly that art is distinctly different from transient popular culture. But I believe popular culture is very good at addressing audience, they talk to the mass and influences people across the world. I VJed last year at number of dance parties, (Although I admit that some of the visuals I created were not conceptually thought through at all - pretty pictures) audiences were excited, they actually dance watching what I do, they all come and talked to me and ask questions. When was the last time I saw such exciting faces at art shows? Possible Projects - Tampopo I was commissioned to create a dandelion graphical interface, where users were able to blow seeds of dandelion. I would like to take this further, investigate user participation and create unique experiences. - Online Gallery I am hoping to create an online gallery where Elam students’ art works are sold. There will be a number of design processes involved from naming, to creating the identity to designing of the website. I think this project is interesting as an artist because instead of using the current gallery system, I am able to reach audiences and buyers directly. Am I repeating what gallery owners are doing now? Am I on the same bandwagon? I don’t think so. I see this as an opportunity to be able to provide places to promote emerging artists where their works are seen. In return I do make profits, but I will set the commission rate to the rate where I find fair for my efforts. When this gallery is fully operating, I am hoping that I have more free time to create artworks. Compare to design, which is a service based on time, product based approach in business can provide more time for me to pursue art practices. - Amphibian web work Ever since I came to New Zealand at the age of 16, I could always see two sides to one story. This is because culture here was so different from culture in Japan, and I always had multiple perspectives on things. I would like to explore the subject matter of “growing up as an Asian kid in New Zealand”. How I always had “the other world”. I would like to explore my early experiences of “both-ness” and “amphibious-ness”.