[Video] Synesthetic Sensory Stimulation With Ryoichi Kurokawa

He strives to create art where "audio and visual are in complete unison."

"This is not about having some sort of message," multimedia artist Ryoichi Kurokawa told The Creators Project in our documentary on the Japanese innovator. Rather, his art is "providing an interactive experience. Something where audio and visual are in complete unison."

Why make art that targets one sense, when you can hit multiple senses in a bout of awesome, glitch-fueled power?

Kurokawa is not speaking lightly when he says his work will hit multiple senses at once. Digesting his art enacts the same type of sensory overload as going to an all-night rave in Berlin (where the artist is currently based), but focused into a specific installation or idea. A turbulent atmosphere can become a haven of neural bliss if you embrace it.

The artist focuses on two main axes in his work--the re-use of nature, and synesthetic experience--to strike awe in viewers with highly innovative digitally generated structures, field recordings, and perception-warping installations.

Unlike other synesthetes who make art to alleviate or complement how they process sensory information, Kurokawa pushes himself to create work that includes so much stimulation that it forces viewers to either cower in its power, or embrace the storm and find peace amongst the chaos. "The question is how to make order from disorder," he said. 

Image from Mol (2012) 

To reach that peace within the noise, Kurokawa uses nature as his muse: "Art or man-made things can compress space and time in a way nature cannot," and thus he manipulates the environment with his own dimensional agenda, hypnotizing anyone who watches. 

Watch our documentary on the brilliant artist, and take a step back with us to spotlight pieces of his work that may be directly influenced by the natural world. 

Ground (2011)

Ground (2011) appears like a still image within the animated sequence, as the transitions from one motion to the next are slurred and extended. The fragmented images and sounds spark tension and underscore that this work was inspired by the battle grounds of the Middle East during war time. Even if such terrain is not scenic, it's still a natural setting upset by violence.

Octfalls (2011)

As part of the 54th Venice Biennale, Kurokawa built Octofalls, an installation that signifies "one of a thousand ways to defeat entropy." 

The work includes eight hanging HD screens sporadically projecting images of a waterfall cascading down a cliff, while pulse-like sounds of rushing water play over speakers. The artist told The Creators Project that this work was influenced by Icelandic waterfalls.

Rheo: 5 Horizons (2010)

Rheo: 5 Horizons (2010), a stunning, glitch-heavy installation, included imagery from the Zwin Nature Reserve in Belgium's North Sea. Displayed across five HD displays (with five channel multi-sound), iridescent landscapes burst into static wave forms. You can watch a video clip of this work here.

Sirens (2012)

Like 2011's syn, Sirens includes images of animals--elk, birds, horses, and more--and molds them in digitized ghosts. The rapid-fire barrage of images and sound often make the creatures feel like skittish phantoms: make any sudden movements and they're gone. 

An image from Renature

For such a young artist, it's shocking how prolific Kurokawa has been. He has exhibited work at the Tate Modern, Venice Biennale, Transmediale, and Sonar festival, and doesn't look like he'll be slowing down anytime soon (and you can see many more of installations here).

No matter what medium he works in, Kurokawa is able to play artistic demi-god by warping nature on his computer and with his hands. He makes a maelstrom beautiful, and turns beauty into a maelstrom. 

Take a look at some of his early recordings compiled on an LP titled Copynature below, and re-watch our documentary--especially if you're looking for an electric jumpstart to get your day going. 

"A Few Walks" from Copynature

"OOL" from Copynature

Ryoichi Kurokawa's website