The kids rush to the television, eager for the show "UgoUgo Lhuga" to tune in. As their parents look on in wonder, the children position their cell phones with their dialing fingers poised. Two sumo wrestlers appear on the screen and... [more]
The kids rush to the television, eager for the show "UgoUgo Lhuga" to tune in. As their parents look on in wonder, the children position their cell phones with their dialing fingers poised. Two sumo wrestlers appear on the screen and prepare for a bout. The children pick up the phones and relay commands to the rollicking wrestlers with their voices. It is the dawn of the interactive cartoon: from now on, children's entertainment will be firmly in their own hands.
"UgoUgo Lhuga" was designed by Toshio Iwai who is an Interactive media artist and a cult figure in his native Japan. Iwai first introduced a greater degree of interactivity to the realm of video games. His "SimTunes" has its fair share of guns and adventure, but players can also create their own music and environments. As the game's producer remarked, "[Iwai] has a combination of a totally refined eye and aesthetic coupled with a comprehensive, intimate knowledge of the technology." For his own part, Iwai maintains that technology shouldn't dominate our lives without lending its unique qualities to the service of art.
Iwai has placed his digital fingers in everything from children's cartoons, computer games, software design, gallery-based art, and performance. However, he states, "All my work begins with animation and never strays too far from it." Born in 1962, he completed a master's course in Plastic Art and Mixed Media at the University of Tsukuba in 1987. Since then, he has served as artist-in-residence in locations from Germany to the United States to his native Japan.
Iwai is particularly intrigued by the interaction of images and music. In 1987, his collaborative performance with award-winning composer and pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto played to packed houses. "Music Plays Images X Images Plays Music" featured Sakamoto on the grand piano and a mouse-wielding Iwai near a bank of computers. As Sakamoto's music filled the room, images began dancing across a 60-foot screen that towered above the performers. Using light, projection, and graphics, Iwai created a real-time visual response to the music. In turn, Sakamoto responded to the images projected before him. The performance was a new symbiosis of audio and visual arts.
One fan remarked that the multimedia artist would be the perfect candidate to design the mate for Frankenstein's monster. In every medium he touches, he creates fledgling hybrids that mutate and multiply into original art forms. In a Postmodern era when boundaries seem tenuous, Iwai's artistic vision is particularly prescient. [show less]