Masaki Fujihata (Japan), Beyond Pages, 1995

[Beyond Pages, 1995]
interactive environment
from the collection of Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany

A small chamber equipped with a desk and a chair. On the table lies a virtual picture book, the pages of which show one item each in images and letters, such as a picture of an apple and "apple" written next to it. When the visitor touches the apple, someone bites into it, accompanied by the sound of biting into an apple; when touching the picture of a door on another page the door of the actual space opens, and for an instant a child appears in it; touching a lamp switches on the actual desk lamp.Each page of the picture book offers various experiences and little surprises. "Beyond Pages" adds a taste of fantasy to the austerity of a study room, inviting visitors to experience according to their own sensibilities abrupt shifts of images and words (=signals) from the closed frame of a book to changes in the real environment.

The data projector loads images of a leather bound tome onto a tablet which a light pen activates, animating the objects named in it - stone, apple, door, light, writing. The soundscore immaculately emulates the motion of writing of each kanji sign against paper, save for the syllabic glyphs of Japanese script, for which a voice pronounces the selected syllable. Stone and apple roll and drag across the page, light illuminates a paper-shaded desk lamp; door opens a video door in front of where you read, a naked infant romping, life-size and laughing, in.

An illuminating illuminated manuscript opens and leafs through with a gesture, more direct than metaphor, more subtle than allegory, of the digital text, book as light source.

A simple setting and a brief interaction. On the level of individual humans as modern forms of intelligence facing table, chair and book, Fujihata offers connections that take the recipient beyond the given formats. Not only does this work provide of the potential of "books" in the digital age, but it serves as an interface that reminds us of the original functions of books: plays in the sphere of cognition and imagination.

[Masaki Fujihata (Japan)]

born in Tokyo in 1956, since 1999 a professor of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music from which he graduated, is known as a representative of interactive media arts in Japan. He started his career as a digital artist for computer graphics and animations in the early 80's. In the late 80's, he produced computer generated sculptures and, in the early 90's, he entered the field of interactive arts. His works have won several prizes, including the Golden Nica of Prix Ars Electronica, Linz. In 1998 Fujihata is working as artist-in-residence at the ZKM-Institute for Visual Media. Fujihata's work is concerned with investigating virtual systems and examines concepts of information storage and communication. His interactive environment Beyond Pages is one of the highlights in the collection of the ZKM-Media Museum.

His networked art piece Global Interior Project received a Golden Nika at Ars Electronica in 1996. His interactive book, Beyond Pages, travelled around the U.S. and Europe and was finally installed in the permanent collection of ZKM in 1997. In 1998 his shared virtual environment art piece Nuzzle Afar was exhibited in Germany, Holland, Austria, Hungary, and Japan. In 1999 this piece was installed in Budapest, Linz, and Karlsruhe. Impressing Velocity, another new piece using a toy-train and simulation platform, was shown at ZKM in 1999/2000.