Digital Choc 2016: spotlight on Franco-Japanese creation

From 19th February to 21st March 2016, Digital Choc is back for its 5th edition. Responsible for organising the Tokyo festival, the Institut français in Japan has a strictly Franco-Japanese programme lined up. Through a theme called “futurama,” the artists invited explore the future and raise questions through their disparate perspectives. This bi-national combination and the resulting cultural differences, make it a particularly interesting event.

Digital Choc can be credited for its position at the intersection of two cultures widely recognised for their creativity in the digital arena. However, the French may be fascinated by Japanese art, but few Japanese artists associated with the digital scene are recognised for in France for the moment. The reverse is also true, so much so that some national celebrities, like 1024 Architecture, may have barely exhibited in Japan. On the initiative of Digital Choc festival, the Institut français in Japan provides a new perspective on these two countries. The focus here is on creating a link between several of the most promising artists and to promote two key digital cultures in leading locations in Tokyo.

A Franco-Japanese programme

For the 5th Digital Choc festival, the artists, sometimes researchers and engineers, present works around the theme “futurama,” a huge sounding board for all our futuristic fantasies. Alex Augier and 1024 Architecture will be headlining the festival. The first, already scheduled at the festival Mapping and Vision’R, plays oqpo_oooo, superb live audiovisual employing a minimalist aesthetic (available as an installation with vVvoxel). The 1024 collective presents, with the last section of the triptych Euphorie-Crise-Recession, the ruins promised to our civilisation. Their Walking Cube, an organic and absurd machine of sorts, animated by mechanical vibrations, is also exhibited at Tour Mori as part of Media Ambition Tokyo.


On the Japanese side, Yoichi Ochiai, a researcher and director of the laboratory Digital Nature Group, extends his work on light with looking glass “time”. An installation in line with the trend for low-tech, where a dozen magnifying glasses associated with a series of clocks, projects a new fixed and twisted image of time on the wall. Lastly Goh Uozumi invites visitors to contemplate a monumental video installation, THE MATRIX project. The artist proposes a fantasy archive system containing the memory of men over the next 1,000 years. 

Goh Uozumi,  "Trustless trust"  Production : French Institute of Japan/Zinc/Seconde Nature

Digital Choc Prize 2016

This latter artist, winner of the Digital Choc Prize 2015, has already presented his installation in Marseille following a residency at Belle de Mai (Zinc / Seconde Nature). Developed from the effort to invite Japanese artists to France, this time the Digital Choc Prize 2016 is partnering the Scopitone Festival and will enable a young Japanese to exhibit their work in Nantes next September. The opening of submissions will be made official during the launch of the Digital Choc Festival.

The festival has become established on the promising digital festivals landscape in just a few years, due to its high ambitions. By providing visibility to French and Japanese artists Digital Choc has proven its legitimacy. Samson Sylvain, responsible for the Digital Choc programming and manager of the art department at the Institut français in Japan in Tokyo, details the action and ambition of the festival:

Is there a difference between French and Japanese digital culture?

“There is more fluidity between disciplines in Japan. Creative expression is less bridled and the Japanese make full use of digital tools. I am thinking for example of the Rhizomatiks collective that takes an interest as much in the technical possibilities as in the final results. The approach is different in France. Technology is critically examined. It allows the medium to be interrogated and to produce projects with a strong conceptual impact. Two different spirits then, but which are nonetheless facing the same issues. Namely, the links maintained between contemporary art and digital.”

However Digital Choc exhibits more than just digital art...

“The festival originated in 2012. At the time the idea was to present the fields spanned by digital. One of the priorities was therefore to work around digital arts, but not uniquely... Since then, we’ve presented several disciplines: visual installations, electro live, video games and even comic strips (see file) as was the case with works by Marc-Antoine Mathieu last year. The primary goal is to enable the Japanese to discover digital creation, and vice versa.”

Video report Digital Choc 2015 - La Fabrique du Réel (credit: Eve Garnier)

Did Digital Choc rely on renowned festivals to promote these two digital cultures?

“It made no sense to focus on French and Japanese digital creation without partnering with other festivals. We have formed fruitful partnerships with key figures and recognised structures like for example the Japan Media Arts Festival, an international benchmark in terms of digital creation, Media Ambition Tokyo and AMIT (Art, Media & I, Tokyo). Some of the artists scheduled are then invited to these festivals for a performance or a conference.”


“futurama” is the common theme for the programme. Why did you choose this theme?

“The festival selects a precise editorial line as a focus for each edition. The first year we conveyed identity in Internet traffic by inviting the collective AntiVJGregory Chatonsky and Adrien M / Claire B Company. Digital territories, machines and reality were themes in subsequent years. This time we have centred the programme on “futurama”. It alludes to one of the numerous attractions during New York’s World Fair in 1939. This attraction fuelled all the fantasies of retrofuturism and in a way the future of humanity. This need to question our posterity is taken for granted today...”

Interviewed and written by Adrien Cornelissen

Festival Digital Choc | Website | Facebook Page

From 19th February to 21st March 2016

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