crediti inglese: syn_, 2011 Audiovisual Concert /  2ch HD projection, 2.1 ch sound
concept, direction, composition, programming Ryoichi Kurokawa (JP)
production Cimatics
coproductione Scopitone


Running time 30’

Epilespsy warning: this performance has been identified by epilepsy action to potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised.

Ryoichi Kurokawa is a Japanese artist. Born in 1978, he  lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Kurokawa’s works take on multiple forms such as installation works, recordings, and concert pieces. He composes time sculptures by using field recordings and digital generated structures to rebuild architecturally the audiovisual phenomenon. In recent years, his works have been shown at international festivals and museums including Tate Modern[UK], Venice Biennale[IT], Transmediale[DE], and Sonar[ES]. In 2010, he was awarded the Golden Nica at Prix Ars Electronica in the Digital Musics & Sound Art category.

” syn_ ” is a new version of Kurokawa’s previous diptych audiovisual concert piece “cm: av_c”.

“synchronization” occur simultaneously

“synthesis” differing perspectives

“synopsis” see in one bundle

“syneathesia” sense in one modality


“syn” is the prefix and it means “together” or “with” or “integrate” in Greek. It means feeling any different things as one thing at the same time. In this work synchronization, synthesis, synopsis, and synesthesia, are additionally emphasized more than in the previous work “cm: av_c”. If the recent concert pieces “Rheo” or “Parallel Head” are treated as “cinema”, it is suggested that this work would have much more implications of “music”.

The aim is to get directly stimulated and to feel simultaneously with eyes and ears. The sounds and images could automatically integrate visual and auditory perception and they induce the synesthetic experience.

Ryoichi Kurokawa interviewed by Laurent Catala

Ryoichi Kurokawa interviewed by Laurent Catala

How do you proceed to reach this degree of interpenetration?
In fact it’s something very cerebral. In general, I mentally work a lot on my ideas before concretizing them. I make them under a tangible form but, thanks to this process, the result remains quite abstract. Digital tools that I use allow me to keep this orientation, even if course, sometimes, the production work can alter the first visions that I had about the project. Nature is my principal source of inspiration, and has always been. Mixing in a hybrid way analogical material and digital treatments is as well particularly important. All my work lies on this notion of hybridization. Between analog and digital, but also between time and space, the full and the fragmentary, the simple and the complex, the reactive and the contemplative, the auditory and the visual.

However, has your creation work evolved through your different productions, notably concerning your famous audiovisual performances? For example I noticed that you more and more tend to give priority to multi-screens environments. Can we talk about new steps about each of your pieces, between cm: av_c then Parallel Head, and now with Rheo?
Even if it’s true that I can give priority to the multi-screens aspect for my audiovisual concerts or my installations, I can sometimes work only from a unique source of screening. As it happens to me to work in collaboration with other artists. I especially believe that my work is more en more searching for spatialized expressivity. cm: av_c, for example, used a diptych format (two screens) and one stereo soundtrack performed live. It was quite easy to understand the connections between screening and sound, and it’s true that if we compare it to my following works, it was quite a simple access approach. At the beginning, Parallel Head was an installation, corresponding to a cinematographic environment with ten screens and a surround sound.
I have a concert version of this piece in diptych and quadritych format (4 screens) in 5.1 sound, stereophonic or quadriphonic. For this piece, I therefore made my work evolve towards more spatialization than in cm: av_c, as far as the sound is concerned, and as far as the image is concerned. Rheo is my most recent work. I kept the idea of spatiality and temporality in the audiovisual synthesis, but I moderated the synchronized aspect if we compare it to my previous pieces. My technical approach also evolved by the way, because digital technology better itself every day and allow a consequent quality gain, for the sound and for the image.

I read that you had recently developed a kind of instrument that would allow you to create/compose in real time real audiovisual sculptures while mixing lots of other sources. Do we need to see here the care to have the approach as tactile as possible on your creation work?
Yes because this tactile approach allows to go beyond the limits of our physical perceptions, the audience’s one in any case. I try to treat those simultaneity and audiovisual stimulations principles in order to offer the audience an aesthetic as sensible as possible, on the basis of a synaesthetic experience.

Talking about this synasesthetic experience between sound and image, what are you the most interested in: synchronizing contradictory or complementary audiovisual elements or playing with their collision effects?
In fact I think I especially try to conceive a space where two different materials coexist. It doesn’t mean that these two sound and visual materials have to come to a king of synthesis, it means they have to be synthetic and enter in collision one with the other AT THE SAME TIME. In the frame of my audiovisual work, I consider each of these materials as the part of a same unity, different vectors of a unique piece.
In this context, what has been you artistic development to arrive where you are today? Did you have particular influences in you multimedia progression?
I don’t have any particular artistic training. I did not study design nor music at university. In fact, I taught myself everything. At the beginning, I started creating pieces for the fun of it. But it’s true that I’ve always liked architecture, design, photo or cinema, and they all were without a doubt a great influence. Before becoming an artist myself, I was besides more interested in contemporary art than digital art. I liked Joseph Beuys a lot for example.

Going back to your synaesthetic approach, your DVD Copynature represents a great example of this aesthetic orientation. Do you work on sound and image simultaneously or do you give a certain priority to one of these supports?
Both of them are indivisible. I create audio pieces as well as visual pieces, but the main thing remains the audio-visual concordance. As I was saying before, I start my work by building my audiovisual work in my head, in an abstract way, but in a way sound and image are already present. The idea is to get this way, intellectually, to the most concrete structuration possible, before really building the structure, with my digital tools and my analogical material. Then, inspiration can follow different flows, more visual sometimes, more related to sound at other moments.

However in Copynature you pointed up the fact to work on the musical way on the retinal persistence phenomenon; those images that remain fixed in the retina under the effect of their excessive luminous visualization. The visual idea therefore seems predominant here and joins even a reflection more precise on memory…
It’s true that for this work I interested myself in this notion of persisting images, linked to memory reminis-cences. According to me, vision is not only used to see what eyes reflect. Vision simultaneously takes to all the other perception fields and may be to an expression field as well for blurred memories. It joins my stimulation work. In Copynature, I translate this vision principle in an emphatic way in a way. I suppose that all our memories remain anchored in us as images placed side by side on our retina. Those persisting images also being the reflection of our imagination a bit.

Your work can also be very progressive if we consider a same live performance. Your “interpretation” of Rheo during the Elektra festival in Montreal was different from the one given at the Exit festival in Créteil. It notably seems that you have reworked the piece with new images?
In fact, I presented Rheo four times in beta version in France, then in final version at Elektra. So of course, some parts of the piece are different, but I kept the same guidelines. Given the places where the concerts took place were very different [a small room where the audience seated for Exit, a big room giving priority to the standing position for Elektra.], different audiences had also a very different perception of the piece. And as I always keep a live latitude concerning sound mixing in surround, it allows me to bring the audience towards new impressions.

When we see the evolution of your work towards always more spatiality, with the use of multi-screens or “surround” sound effects, we can ask ourselves what is the interest to produce pieces in mono screening more classical, as for Color field Variations 2 for example?
My interest in my work doesn’t necessarily change depending on the format. But to tell you the truth, it is much harder to apply a spatialization concept to a simple screening work than to a live multimedia performance or even an installation. For me, this simple screening work is more related to cinema. In this perspective, not always but often, I like to work the video as a luminous source.

It’s not rare to see you working on projects with other Japanese artists, coming from the techno music scene like Aoki Takamasa or Yoshihiro Hanno from label Progressive Form, or from a contemporary scene more general public, like Ryuchi Sakamoto ou Haruomi Hosono. What brings you those collaborations in particular?
Making collaborations always give me a feeling of novelty. The simple fact to have exchanges, discussions, allow me to draft new artistic ideas that my solo work wouldn’t have allowed me to imagine. Working with others also allows me to be more flexible in terms of methodology. Sometimes I feel more free. And for me there is no difference between the fact to work with an artist from the techno music scene or actual music because, from the time that I work with musicians, I treat music for what it is, meaning sound, simply.

To conclude, can you tell us few words about your next projects? Is a new step in your evolution working process already on the way?
I’m going to keep on presenting Rheo and prepare an installation version of this piece. I’m also working on a theater play for the end of the year, on the occasion of a collaborative work. I will start working on a new piece for live concert and on a new installation next year.