The speech draft in the "Respond" festival

Masayuki Akamatsu
April 3, 2003


Good morning everybody. My name is Masayuki Akamatsu. I came from Japan. I'm very glad to take part in this festival. Now I hope to talk about my work "Time Machine!', its background and some considerations.


I started my career as a composer, a performer and a computer programmer. Almost all of my works are related to musics and sounds. "Time Machine!" is my first work that is not related to sounds at all. But I put some musical ideas into it, for example, rhythm, beat, articulation and so on. You can also find some musical techniques, for example, feedback, looping, sampling, scratching and so on.


I'll talk about the background of "Time Machine!". I started developing a software so I could use it as a video-sampler and a video-delay 4 years ago. Now I'll show you the video document. It shows some of my performances using that software. This is a collaboration work with a percussion player, named "Mass & Media". I used realtime television broadcasting.

< DVD>


In a perfomance, everything must respond immediately. So we cannot use a video tape in such a situation. It 's too blate. It's too slow. Even though we use a computer, we cannot use a video editing software, since it is too slow. We use it only to build a fixed story. Maybe we can use a video playback system that is normally used in a live broadcasting such for example of a football game. But it is very expensive and it has no useful functions that we can use for performances. So I had to develop my own software.

(First Version)

Next, I made a video installation work using the same software. It is the first version of "Time Machine!". I'll show you its video that was showned in Tokyo last year. I used 3 video cameras, 3 projectors, 3 controllers and 3 computers.

< DVD>

In this work, the computer is always capturing the image that comes from the video camera and it is playing back the image at the moment that the audience can decide using the controller. This is the same hardware configuration as the work that you can see in this festival.

(Second Version)

Then I developed the second version of "Time Machine!".
Now I have a video camera here, let me show you the current version of "Time Machine!".

< Demonstration>

[Spiral] "Time Machine!" shows the video image in various ways and various forms. In the first one, many image frames are displayed and they are flowing in a spiral form. The central image is the present one and the successive delayed images are arranged around it. The audience can control the speed of the iamge flow. In this type, we can watch time from the present to the past at one glance. Also if we pay attention to each image cell, they show the moving images at the different moments. For example, the 30th cell shows one second delayed image if its frame rate is 30 fps.

[Grid] In the next one, images are arraged in a gridiron form. You can control the direction of the image flow.

[Scratch] This one is an automatic scratching of the video image. Various moments come in regularly or randomly. You can control the scratch pattern.

[Footprints] The next one is very simple. The central image is the current one. And the edge of the image is expanding to the surrounding area like footprints.

[Overlay] In this case, the bright parts remain and the other parts are being refreshed. At regular intervals, the image is placed around as a snapshot image.

[Playback] The last one has the same form as the first version of "Time Machine!".
The current version of "Time Machine!" has 10 different displaying types.


OK. Now I hope to talk about some considerations about this work,

- To provide the way to see time and to think about time

The aim of "Time Machine!" is, first of all, to provide the way to see time and to think about time. All images in this work are generated by the computer and a computer is a rational machine. So the compter treats time mathematically and regularly. But our perception of time is sensuous not punctual. Maybe you will have strange feelings when you see "Time Machine!". For example, you may say "How far this moment is" or "How near that monent is". Here is a difference between objective time and subjective time. You will find any other interesting aspects of time in this work.

- To feature the audience at center stage

The second aim of this work is that the audience appears and acts in the image. They can also control the images by themselves. The image is a reflection of the audience. If there is no one, the image is still or shows a geometric pattern. When someone comes and moves in this work, then the image makes sense. He or she is an appreciator and a player and also a director. The audience makes the image using their own bodies. This work is very physical in this meaning.

BTW, the audience are not only human but also animals. In my experience, dogs and cats can notice this work and react to it. Some moving inorganic materials also might be players even though they can't appreciate it.

- To make it simple and quick

To enjoy the work simply is another aim of this work. So I make it simple and quick. There is a very short instruction "Turn the dial to change time" and "Push the dial to change the variation". That's all. The audience soon recognizes what it is. And then they will move, act or dance even though they don't see the instructions. I'm glad if they feel it as a spectacle and as a entertainment. It's OK for me.

Perhaps I can generate more complex images but it will have no extra possibilities. It is very important that you can expand the image and your experience by yourself. I think the simpleness can create complexity and richness. We can think of it as an eastern style of way.

- To make content without content

At the last point of view, I ask you "Who is the author in this work?" Of course, I worked over my plan and I realized it. But the final image the audience sees is not what I create. Imagine I record the image and sell it as DVD. Who has a copyright on it? Who gets rewards from it? This is an interesting question. But we can find a similar situation in some creative tools, networking systems and so on. I hope to name it "Content without content". It is my favourite style. The work will be completed by the artist and the audience together in cooperation.


I'm showing this work "Time Machine!" in the PLAYROOM near here. Please come and enjoy it
Thank you for your kind attention.