Daito Manabe & Motoi Ishibashi glorify the invisible at the MCJP


Transphère, a series of installations presenting the work of contemporary Japanese artists, is on the programme at the Japanese Cultural Centre in Paris in 2016. While waiting for creations by the Atelier Bow-Wow & Didier Faustino to be exhibited this summer, followed by Rei Naito this autumn, the famous Datoi Manabe & Motoi Ishibashi, exceptional artist/programmers, unveil Rate-shadow. This is a new digital work, halfway between real and virtual, on view until the 7th May 2016.

You may have read that the Transphère series at the Japanese Cultural Centre in Paris aims to question the meaning of art through experimentation. This is a recurring theme regularly proclaimed by cultural structures, yet sometimes leaving visitors disappointed. However in this particular case, fans will pay particular attention to this declaration. Anyhow, it’s already a feat to see the Japanese Cultural Centre in Paris decompartmentalise contemporary creation and present digital works of art. All the more so, this concerns key figures on the digital scene and brilliant computer researchers, Daito Manabe & Motoi Ishibashi, invited to exhibit a new piece.

Daito Manabe has already made a name for himself by publishing his stunning performance Face Visualizer on YouTube in 2008. Just like Ryoji Ikeda, famous for his avant-garde installations or Masaki Fujihata in the field of computer graphics and network art, Daito Manabe and his Japanese accomplice have since made a name for themselves in research and development. Aomi Okabe, artistic director of exhibitions at the Japanese Cultural Centre in Paris states that, “Daito Manabe and Motoi Ishibashi, who belong to a generation that grew up on video games, refer to themselves first of all as programmers, developing the programmes and hardware which they use themselves.”

Experimentation-led methodology

Collaborating as directors of Rhizomatiks Research, one of the most innovative Japanese structures with regard to digital creation, the artists, and programmers therefore gain from each other’s respective area of expertise. “As a general rule, Motoi Ishibashi is responsible for engineering, that is all the equipment and mechanics, while for my part I work on the software and electromagnetic waves, such as sound and light”, explains Daito Manabe.

The work of the duo is based on continuous experimentation. For them, computer and mechanical research is just as important as the visual result, enough to make it the main requirement for any creative activity. Motoi Ishibashi explains this approach in detail: “The tools used are constantly evolving. We make use of them again and from this point on we imagine what work of art can be produced. It would be complicated to separate research and artistic achievement in our business. They are the two faces of the same coin and indispensable to carry out our work”


Halfway between real and virtual

Finally myoelectric sensors, mapping (see Pulse) or lasers (see Robot x Dancers x Lasers), pushed to a high technological standard, become simple tools enabling a tangible area to be created between real and virtual. Their creations come in many forms. Also, choreographed performances directed by Mikiko and performed by the company elevenplay are all magnificent.

drone x spotlight _ elevenplay x rhizomatiks "Shadow"

 3 dancers and 24 drones combining several dancers with a horde of flying drones is one of the latest to date. In other cases their inventiveness takes shape through visual installations. Particles, a monumental haze of luminous pixels awarded at the Ars Electronica and Japan Media Arts festivals is perhaps their greatest success.es installations plastiques. Particles, monumental nuage de pixels lumineux primé aux festivals Ars Electronica et Japan Media Arts est peut être leur plus belle réussite.

ELEVENPLAY x Rhizomatiks Research “3 dancers and 24 drones” 


Even if interactivity is often necessary, it is not a question of holding forth on the interface between human and machine. “I have never been really aware of positioning humans at the centre of our creations. Nonetheless we conceive new artistic expressions by combining what can be created by technology alone and what be created by humans alone,” confesses Motoi Ishibashi. More ironically Daito Manabe adds that, “the central theme does not focus on humans. An electrode could be placed within the brain of a rat. The data gathered would create an interesting framework for a work”. In any case, by simulating a world, often a poetic one, Daito Manabe & Motoi Ishibashi prompt viewers to experience the difference between perception and reality.


Rate Shadow or how to perceive the invisible

Exhibited for the first time at the Japanese Cultural Centre in Paris, this is exactly what Rate Shadow claims. The installation is a continuation of Rate, created in 2011. This latter comprised huge white balloons with splendid colours that were only revealed through the filter of a camera screen. By developing an LED device, Daito Manabe & Motoi Ishibashi show us the invisible. This time, forms are lit up and create shadows that, viewed through the screen of a smartphone or a tablet, reveal colours that are invisible to the naked eye.

The mechanism is based on the use of frequencies that our cognitive skills are unable to detect. Yet all of these light waves are no less real. That’s the point of Rate Shadow. Paradoxically, although technology liberates us from certain physical constraints, it also reminds us of the limits of our brains. Daito Manabe & Motoi Ishibashi successfully manage a remarkable feat: not content to show the invisible, they glorify it, making it an unforgettable experience.

Writing and interviews: Adrien Cornelissen

Acknowledgements: Rina Watanabe, Ayumi Ota, Mami Iida, Philippe Achermann

Photo title: Rhizomatiks Research+ELEVENPLAY, border, 2015. Photo: Muryo Homma (Rhizomatiks Research)

Photos of the installation 

Paysages fertiles - Transphère 1

Daito Manabe & Motoi Ishibashi
From 16th March to 7th May 2016


with Daito Manabe & Motoi Ishibashi
hosted by Oami Okabe (artistic director at the MCJP)
15th March – 6.30pm

with Atau Tanaka (artist) and Emiko Ogawa (Ars Electronica)
hosted by Dominique Moulon (art critic and exhibition curator)
24th March – 6.30pm

with ? (program coming soon)
hosted by Cédric Huchet (programmer Scopitone/Stereolux)
14th April- 6.30pm






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