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Digital Artist - Toshio Iwai

Toshio Iwai grabbed my attention with the image in our Digital Art book on page 137 showing his Piano as Image Media, 1995. In this piece he developed a way to take what a "player" does with a trackball and to trigger piano keys and create this computer-generated images on a screen. From my research, most of what he does combines music, computer-generated art and an interactive aspect. Even his TV show, which was about kids interacting with computer-generated cartoons, was refined by him so that the characters reacted to what the kids said instantly.

His other pieces include a four person "game" in which each player is supposed to react to what the other players are doing in terms of the music they create. Again, he utilizes the trackball to trigger certain musical notes. The players see a graphical representation on the floor as they move the trackball and hear the music. The idea is that the four players will adjust their notes to create a harmonized score. http://ns05.iamas.ac.jp/~iwai/artworks/resonance.html

I really like his interactive approach to art. I've always been fascinated by the visualization of music and so his various experiments really intrigue me. I cannot find any very recent works. It appears he just keeps re-installing older pieces. Still, I like it.

I have looked for ways to integrate art and music into my art eduction lessons. I created one lesson where the students would have to create a digital background to a dance track as they do for DDR Max (Dance Dance Revolution) video game. Toshio's work flows along a similar vein. I hope to use his work as the art historical aspect of my lesson.

This is what I found regarding his biography ( http://www.ntticc.or.jp/Biography/Iwai_t/)
Born in Kira, Aichi Prefecture, in 1962.

It was following his matriculation in the Fine Arts Department at Tsukuba University in 1981 that Iwai became involved in experimental animation, the experience which inspired his interest in making videos. While becoming involved with film and video, he became interested in the potential of flip books, zoetropes and other visual illusions that were precursors to film. His interests then shifted to art produced on computers. In 1985, while Iwai was still a student, his installation Time Stratum won the High Technology Art Exhibition Gold prize. He also won the grand prize at the 17th annual Modern Japanese Art Awards, becoming the youngest artist ever to win the award. In 1987, following the completion of his work at Tsukuba University's Plastic Art and Mixed Media master's course, he went on to exhibit his interactive art at shows both in Japan and overseas, winning wide acclaim.

His works were displayed at the Seville EXPO in 1992 in Spain, at the EC Japan Fest in 1993 in Antwerp, Belgium, at the Biennale d?t contemporain de Lyon in 1995, at the Mediascape Exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1996, and at the G7 Summit Exhibition in Lyon in 1997. As these examples demonstration, he has become one of Japan's leading artists and continues to exhibit his work world-wide.

Iwai is a multitalented creator whose works also include the creation of characters and computer graphic designs for Fuji Televisions, "Einstein TV" and "Ugo Ugo Lhuga" TV programs, as well as computer game software.

In 1996 Iwai published a Windows CD-ROM "Simtunes" in the United States, issued in Japanese, German and French editions. He has also been active in many locations overseas. In 1991-92, he was based at the San Francisco Exploratorium. In 1994-95, he was a visiting artist at ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany, where his work included a major one-man show. In 1997 he had a retrospective exhibition/ innovative workshops at ICC in Tokyo.

In recent years, Iwai has been particularly interested in the relationship of sound and image. One major result of this interest was the performance in collaboration with Sakamoto Ryuichi first at the Art Tower MIto, Japan. This performance went on to which the Golden Nica the Interactive Art Division at the 1997 Prix Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. Currently Iwai is avisiting artist at the Mixed Reality Systems Laboratory Inc. in Yokohama, where he is involved in research and creative work related to Mixed Reality, preparing new work for display on TV as well as in exhibitions both in Japan and abroad.