Interview: Takumi Endo
The Paris-based Japanese artist discusses his work with Galerie CIANT, where his interactive TypeTrace application is on display until May 5th
Galerie CIANT: Your original "profession" is composer. What led you into the visual arts? What is more important for you -- the sound or the view? Or is it the interconnection between these two basic senses that inspires you the most?
Takumi Endo: In the Latin punctus contra punctum (which we can literally translate as point against point) we find the origins of our term "counterpoint music". Developing as early as the 9th century, counterpoint music is distinguished from our relatively modern tonal system by its polyphonic (multi-voiced) structure. My work with music and new media can be understood from within this notion of the contrapunctus. The delicate, multi-point composition described by posit/response/counter-response, invites a fluidity of movement and formation of new connections between its various points and across discipline. While still at music school, I co-founded the art collective Responsive Environment with other artists and with architects. Our collaborative working approach, between members who ordinarily pursued work in separate fields, served to illustrate for me a wider example of the phenomenon I had myself experienced as artist and composer -- all working elements can form an organic inter-relationship whilst remaining pure, self-contained and autonomous, and feed back into the whole, generating new and surprising relationships. In this way, my spatial work serves to enhance my music concern. And it could be conceived that it is also natural for music to take on spatial dimensions precisely because of its time-based nature.
CIANT: The main part of your work is an artist research of human thinking during speaking and writing. Why do you aim on this exact-kind of field?
Endo: To put it simply, I am interested in a possibility of human being's further evolution.
Many of the fundamental issues addressed by language research are linked with the enigma of our mental structure; that is to say by the challenges presented to us in the study of the structure and conventions of human language. Thus far, we could hardly claim that this enigma has been solved. This is one of the reasons why I have been engaged in the Project Phonethica and the project TypeTrace.
CIANT: Your art style is very specialized. To create such installations one needs to have a huge amount of programming, software and hardware knowledge. Have you been always interested so much in the technology from the beginning of your art career as a composer?
Endo: There still exist so many unknown potentialities in human beings. And I believe that our technology should contribute to activate these potentialities.
Pay attention to the world/Explorer the methodology/Disseminate the potentialities. These three statements of mine have been penetrated through the whole of my activities from the beginning of my career.
CIANT:What exactly made you to create Typetrace? Where was the idea born? It is a rather intellectual installation. Aren't you afraid that the audience used to the "classic" visual gallery encounters will be unable to consume such a piece of art?
Endo: Every day, we read dozens of emails, some newspapers and magazine articles, several advertisement billboards and maybe a few parking tickets. We are surrounded by letters perpetually. But all these printed words and fonts are literally "dead still," just like rotten corpses. There is no wonder we feel so relieved when we receive hand-written notes from colleagues, or letters from our lovers; we are suddenly reminded of the richness of the pen strokes; they give you such abundant resources for guessing how, and under which mood and feeling the message was produced. The strokes are the faces of people we have forgotten a long time ago after being flooded by digital messaging tools; they let us imaginarily revive the generation of the text we face.
The digital tools gave us multitudes of new ways to express and communicate with others. Yet, the ocean of information still seems to be a bit frozen. We do not claim corpses, as we have seen too many of them: dead bodies do not talk much, either. By prioritizing speed of communication, we might have forgotten how to really mutually understand what we are saying. Or, employing Gregory Bateson's terminology, we have ignored the preciousness of our world's "prochronism" -- the curriculum vitae of the content apparent inside its form. In other words, it is the essence of things with which we can relate ourselves with them.
CIANT: At your work you are more interested in the process of thinking than in the result itself. It seems then that you are more a researcher than an artist. How do you feel? Is it even necessary to divide these two fields anymore -- research and art?
Endo: I do research, I create art, I compose music, and I travel around the world. I do the things when needed.
Actually, in recent years, I introduce myself as an artist because it is one of the most independent/liberty status among the others in this era. But one day, I wish to be just a human without any kind of status or descriptions.
CIANT: During your art career you have traveled literally all around Europe. What drives you to continue in your journey?
Endo: Human beings leave behind the known when they journey away from home. At one time, travel signified a rite of passage, a chance to feel truly alone, insecure and at odds with the world. The discomfort and insecurity it created had a singular impact on us, and the friction caused by, for instance, a change in temperature or an alien smell or taste could bring about a deeper recognition of one's self. Our very skin signifies a border -- the place where our body ends and the outside world begins. Developments in transportation, improvements in communications, and the onset of globalization have meant that opportunities for this type of travel grow ever rarer in a seemingly shrinking world. We have become more mobile ... We travel with maps, guidebooks and the precedents set by those who have traveled before us. There are few forms of travel which thus entail a journey into the truly unknown. Since 2002, I have passed through many different cultural, political and social contexts, and have come to believe that my own nomadic existence can act as counter to this era of mass tourism. Artists have the ability to express through their way of life that it is possible for each individual to develop their own atlas. My nomadic, artistic life can be seen as an attempt to experience the world through a thinner skin, and I believe that it is in this way that art can offer an alternative encounter, can act counter to an old-fashioned and dominant world system.
Galerie CIANT Events Listing | Takumi Endo's Website
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