Japanese artist presents music videos, flip books

Imagine seeing your face in the music video for your favorite band or holding a rainbow in your hands. Masashi Kawamura, founder and creative director of creative agency PARTY Inc., has made these dreams a reality with his art.

Before founding PARTY Inc., Kawamura worked with large companies such as Playstation, Google and Axe. Despite working with such established companies, he still pursued personal projects across a diverse range of media. On Monday, Kawamura spoke to students at the School of Art about his creative process and work, focusing on these personal enterprises.

His first work was a flip-book called “Rainbow in Your Hand” which gave the illusion of the reader holding a 3-D rainbow in his or her hand. Kawamura created this book because of his fascination with animation and interest in the after-images created by a page when it is flipped quickly. The book has since sold over 20,000 copies in 12 countries.

Kawamura then showed an interactive music video he had worked on for the Japanese band Sour for their song “Mirror.” To view the video, one must log onto Facebook or Twitter through Kawamura’s website. The resulting web page is an out-of-body experience: viewers see their personal information and photos integrated into the complex template of the music video.

“The song talks about finding yourself through your connections and experiences,” Kawamura said. “I wanted to create a video for them that reflected the meaning of the song.”

The next music video Kawamura presented was a very different experience. Created as a favor for a friend’s band and shot entirely through Skype, the video created a visual puzzle, each part being a different actor in his own Skype box.

But the artist faced a number of obstacles in developing the video: “The singer was in Tokyo, and I was in New York. We were working with a zero dollar budget. I wanted to execute my vision but didn’t have a lot of room to work with.”

Kawamura said his solution was to use what he already had at his disposal: web cameras to film and sheets of paper for props.

He then invited the audience into his creative process, showing detailed storyboards and even a prototype of a video that led up to the creation of the Skype project.

Although he showed four music videos and a book, Kawamura has also worked with clothing design, iPhone application design, advertising work, websites, calendar, among other media.

“Media plays an important role in my work,” Kawamura said. “I try to embrace technology, but I use it as a tool to communicate my vision. Ideas should always come first. It shouldn’t be a demonstration of technology.”

Three of four attendees interviewed said they were impressed with this perspective.

“I was struck by the fact that his work has an impact,” Azusa Kobayashi ART ’13 said, “It’s impressive how he uses technology to communicate a message and doesn’t make it the focal point of his work.”

Kawamura is currently working on an architecture project and establishing a New York City location for PARTY Inc.

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