Internationally renowned Japanese media artist Noboru Tsubaki's work Cochineal is featured this winter as part of the Fantaisies Cybernétiques: Hommes et Robots exhibit at the Japanese Cultural Centre in Paris. Taking shape in the form of a large fiberglass insect that lures visitors into its "web", Cochineal is one in a series of socially and politically motivated installations by Tsubaki.
"With Cochineal, I wish to realistically represent the potential harm of a computer virus, or worm. We tend to adopt technological innovations without considering their long-term implications", says Tsubaki. "and we still choose to depend upon them, though they undoubtedly put us at risk. Through Cochineal, I wish to put forth a more realistic representation of these threats".
As with his previous installations, Insect World - where a giant balloon in the shape of a locust was placed on the side of Hotel Inter-Continental in Yokohama, and, his recent work titled UN BOY - a pop meditation on peacekeeping, Cochineal takes a seemingly childish approach in dealing with serious issues for the right reasons. Tsubaki's message goes out to children, so what better way to catch their attention than with large robot teddy bears and orange insects!
Sounds simple? Actually, it sort of is. A custom program developed by Tsubaki keeps a close eye on the virus/worm so when TouchDesigner registers the attack to the system, the information is immediately transmitted to the viewport where the visitor destroys the worm by pushing a MIDI Chaospad button. However, just like in the real world, simply killing the worm does not solve the real issue as the increasing number of worms appear, begging to be exterminated.
"We have used Touch before to create various images and systems of communication. Its flexibility is what this project needed, as it is used to smoothly assemble and display all sorts of data. All the machines, all the images and all languages connect and flow through Touch, which then dispaches them to their proper places. It was a fantastic experience."
Intended as a machine to patrol cyber-terrorism, Cochineal is part of a series of installations that inlcude: "PENTA" a campaign against mines which was shown in Bangladesh, and "TETSUO" which deals with inhumane weapons.
Says Tsubaki: "I organized UN Application for approaching the solutions to difficult problems in the world. I am an artist, and I think the art has to shoulder our responsibility as we pursue our human dreams. Why New UN? I think the United Nations is going to lose its function soon and the New UN is consistent with my art. My UN Application team creates new prototype machines one after another."
Noboru Tsubaki is the Associate Professor at the Tezukayama Gakuin University, a lecturer at the Kyoto College of Fine Arts, and the Director at the Inter Medium Institute in Osaka. He has exhibited in numerous venues, such as the 45th Vennice Biennal, San Francisco MOMA, and San Diego Museum of Modern Art. He is currently the artist in residence program in New Plymouth(NZ).
All images supplied by Noboru Tsubaki.