Hisako K. Yamakawa


“KODAMA (Echoes)” are tree fairies who live in the forest and collect human voices from people who come into the forest. When there is no sign of people around, they begin to mimic and play with the voices people left behind. The moment they sense human movement in the forest, they hide themselves. At the same time, when they notice that there is still someone in the forest, they, being mischievous, wait eagerly for the time when they can collect new voices. In this work, “KODAMA”, that is regarded with reverence in oral tradition and folklore, “human voices” are expressed floating in the air as transparent media.
The communication devices (including cell-phone, e-mail, internet phone, online conversation [chat], video chat and so on) have accomplished a remarkable development in recent years. A communication medium is not limited to the country and it is globally enabled now. People pursue faster or new means of communication. However, those people do not take into account the content of essential communications. The person who chases hot technology and speed tends to forget the existence of the content. It is unfortunate not to notice that a communication medium is a method to introduce content into, in other words, the existence meaning disappears when there is no content. There is a word in Japanese pronounced “kotodama”. It means the traditional belief in the power of words (spoken voice, written words), and also suggests a belief that uttering a thought breathes life into it. People easily forget that the voice mediates the content of a conversation, an invisible and transitory medium. It is because a person concentrates on catching the meaning of specific words in conversation. Yet I often have the feeling that voices are tactile and occupy a certain space that I want to artistically represent as various volumes or solid shapes. I create interactive artworks that translate speech into various outputs, such as physical volume, vibration, or visualized image. It enabled me to demonstrate to audiences the existence of “voice” (transparent media) in physical objects, and how it floats through space. I aim to make works as triggers for people to become aware of transparent (invisible) media in daily life.

Hisako K. Yamakawa graduated with a Bachelors degree of fine arts in sculpture from Kyoto City University of Arts, and then completed her Masters degree at the IAMAS Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences in Gifu Japan in 2003, where she also became a research student from 2004-2005. And she will be a guest researcher at the Interface Culture Laboratories for one year.