Connecting music and the world in a synesthetic wayTakashi Iura & Sachiyo Oshima (artists)

2014 01 13

The artist unit, Takashi Iura + Sachiyo Oshima, are known for their style of merging sound and visuals in a synesthetic way. Here they introduce their recent work as well as artistic philosophy.

Takashi Iura & Sachiyo Oshima (artists)
hanare x Social Kitchen Translation

Our body of work covers a broad range of media, from music to installation. While attending the Department of Concept and Media Planning at Kyoto City University of Arts, where students are able to experiment with different media, we first started creating video work, before later expanding our practice to composing and sound design. What is music? How is it interesting to make connections between visuals and musical elements? And how is that relationship valued in today’s society? We create work based on these themes.

We started to collaborate in 2004, mainly creating musical work under the name “Otograph.” Otograph is a coined word combining “oto” (“sound” in Japanese) and “graph,” meaning the visual, such as painting and video. Despite being enrolled in the Faculty of Art, both of us had music skills so it was natural that we became interested in the idea of synesthesia.

Let’s explain a little about the idea of synesthesia. Synesthesia originally means the sensory phenomenon that occurs when the input and output of different sensations intersect. For example, it happens when looking at a certain color evokes music in your mind, or vice versa. Simply replacing sensations automatically, though, does not make for creative art. Rather, our interests lay in aesthesia and techniques that connect different images and synesthetic expression, revealing what we had previously not been able to sense.

Today many artists work with both video and sound, but back when we started our career as Otograph, working with these two media was not usual, nor were there any other artists working on synesthesia as a theme. It was the time when the digital-based working environment had arrived, making it possible to transform sound and image into binary digits and to deal with these two elements simultaneously. We were thinking at that time that understanding the world with the idea that aesthesia connects visuals and sound might enable us to unveil something that we had not been previously able to perceive.

In the beginning, we focused on the pure relationship between form, color, and sound. As our interest has shifted from sound itself to music or something musical, we have created work through contrasting our analysis of human environments with reality. This is because we felt that the nature of music—its development of organized sound—has something in common with natural phenomena. We currently incorporate plant growth into our themes as something corresponding to the temporal quality unique to music. The biological activity of plants and the sense of time different to humanity offer complexity as well as contingency, which cannot be gained simply by replacing different perceptions.
(These artworks were exhibited under the unit name “Takashi Iura + Sachiyo Oshima.”)

In the following pages, we will introduce in chronological order selected installations from our recent body of work.

Takashi Iura + Sachiyo Oshima (artists)

Takashi Iura + Sachiyo Oshima

Iura and Oshima began to work collaboratively in 2004. Besides exhibiting installations in galleries, they also give audio and visual performances under the name “Otograph.” The soundtrack Otograph created for a PlayStation 3 video game released by PlayStation Network was their first worldwide audio album release.

Takashi Iura
Born in Kyoto Prefecture, Iura earned a PhD from the Graduate School of Arts at Kyoto City University of Arts. He is currently an assistant professor at the Faculty of Informatics at Kansai University.

Sachiyo Oshima
Born in Hyogo Prefecture, Oshima graduated from the Department of Concept and Media Planning at Kyoto City University of Arts. She currently teaches at the Faculty of Informatics at Kansai University as an adjunct professor.

Otograph Official Site