TOKYO ART CITY by NAKED – A conversation with Mr. Ryotaro Muramatsu, the scheming entertainer – Second half

This is the second half of our report on TOKYO ART CITY by NAKED, an exhibition which took as its concept the idea that “the city is a work of art”. Besides reporting on this event, we have also interviewed its creative director, Mr. Ryotaro Muramatsu.


Mr. Ryotaro Muramatsu

■ Morning – Noon – Nighttime — Midnight

The dark streets begin to brighten up. The morning sun rises together with the sparrow’s song, and suddenly the sound of commuters travelling to work by train or by car start to be heard, louder and louder. TOKYO ART CITY has welcomed a new day.

――How did you get involved with projection mapping?

Mr. Muramatsu: Originally I wanted to make movies, and I was an actor. At first it didn’t go too well, and just in those days the movie “The Indian Runner”, directed by the American actor Sean Penn, was released. I was very impressed to see an actor who also directed his own movies, so this motivated me to gather some of my actor friends and start working on a movie project.
Even today, Sean Penn is my hero.

While we were working on film projects I discovered there was a technology called projection mapping, so I bought the projecting machine itself and started learning how to use it. Then in ’97 I created the company NAKED Inc., and started working seriously with projection mapping.

The sun has risen, and we are now surrounded by the hustle and bustle of noon. Many people have come downtown, and TOKYO ART CITY continues to be full of activity.

Tokyo Station at noon

――What are the charms of projection mapping?

Mr. Muramatsu: Movies and visual art all take place within the confines of a frame. Projection mapping transcends that frame. In that sense, I consider it to be a form of expression which transcends cinema itself.
The moment the viewers touch the projection mapping is a very important one. Will they be moved at that instant, will it affect them emotionally? If we don’t get that right, the whole project fails.

Finally the sun starts to set, and the streets get darker and darker. Steet lamps start to turn on here and there. It is during the nighttime that the streets get filled with artificial light, and that’s the time period when the city becomes a work of art according to Mr. Muramatsu.
Several symbolic buildings are lit up with projection mapping visuals. The Tokyo National Museum gets decorated with Kabuki themes, and you can see the Japanese mentality appearing on it.
On the airport there are projections showing how Tokyo is a global city.
And if you climb up to the Tokyo Tower observation deck you get a panoramic view of the whole diorama.

The Tokyo National Museum

The airport

And finally, Tokyo enters into midnight. This is the highlight of TOKYO ART CITY.

Tokyo Station at midnight

Countless particles of light begin overflowing from Tokyo Station. The components which structure a city (its architecture, culture, history, subculture, people’s work) can be seen as particles which fly around space, and group together to form what we know as a city.

Each individual fragment shines in a green color. This is the nature of a city. In Tokyo, the border between the inorganic and the organic is starting to blur.

Particles of light begin overflowing from Tokyo Station

Green light representing the nature of the city.

Then, “it starts raining”. Information starts flowing like water from Shinjuku’s DoCoMo Tower, and rains down over the entire diorama. A rain of information is falling over Tokyo.
This information rain changes the very structure of the diorama. Wherever it falls, neon signs start lighting up. Then it starts entering into information terminals, such as individual smartphones or tablets. Square frames representing terminal screens begin to appear everywhere, and they all light up with words such as “good morning”. This dance of light begins to interconnect itself into a social network.

It finally becomes a vortex of light which embraces everything. It even embraces the viewers.

Information starts flowing like water

Neon signs

A visual representation of social connections

――What are your next projects?

Mr. Muramatsu: Tokyo is expanding in preparation for the year 2020. I think TOKYO ART CITY is a project which will also continue to expand, a project without a final goal.
Our methods of expression will gradually change with time, and this project, which represents the life of our city, will grow into different forms.
And maybe it will even make changes to people life styles, by proposing new ideas.

Embraced by the light

■ Epilogue

The true charm of Mr. Muramatsu’s TOKYO ART CITY project is that, while it is a virtual work of art, it still operates together with the real Tokyo.
As Tokyo continues to evolve, the technologies which allow for these forms of virtual expression will also evolve, and works of art such as those made by creators like Mr. Muramatsu will continue to evolve, also.
We look forward to more projection mapping works like these, projects which go to the limits of their own technology and create a genre of their own within the entertainment world.



>>First half

(Article by: Kenichi Nakamura)

Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.


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