Sound of Ikebana blooms where art and digital technology intersect

KyotoU and Epson jointly fuse innovative high-tech art and business
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Kyoto, Japan -- People usually do not associate fashion shows with digital printing, but in the case of the research collaboration between Seiko Epson Corporation and Kyoto University, there is a lot of business potential where hi-tech art does a catwalk. 

"The aim of the joint research is to develop a digital technology-facilitated business model by which innovative art producers and fashion consumers alike can customize and receive their orders on-demand," explained research leader of Art Innovation Academia Industry Joint Research Project, Naoko Tosa, Professor of Kyoto University's Graduate School of Advanced Integrated Studies in Human Survivability. 

She creates digital art for fashion that is presented on a gallery screen using projection mapping. Her acclaimed Sound of Ikebana project, which fuses the science and technology of sound with the Japanese essence in floral art, is an example of the collaboration between her team and Epson.

Tosa proposes three ideas that beauty can be found in nature: 1) the hidden beauty artists find in nature; 2) the beauty that scientists and mathematicians discover in laws of nature and mathematical principles; 3) the beauty in scientific and mathematical discoveries that are visualized by computer scientists.

The combination of these ideas is evident in her Sound of Ikebana project, which involves the science of sound vibrations at specific frequencies, notably of baby cries. By altering certain other parameters, such as paint viscosity, Tosa's team has produced dynamic sound-generated moving images utilizing a synchronized setup consisting of two computers, a high-speed camera, lighting and audio equipment, and art materials.

One of the two computers is used to adjust the frequency and wave type to generate the desired sound vibration forms to which the paint mixtures physically respond -- "color jump" -- over a rubber base on a speaker. A high-speed camera records the paint's dynamic movements while being illuminated at different angles to accentuate the paint's visually robust physical properties. The second computer is then used to format the images and produce the thematic artwork.

The process culminates into a choreographed series of motion paint pictures aptly called "Sound of Ikebana: Four Seasons", which becomes both the stage and backdrop for a fashion show that presents Tosa's line of apparel with her Sound of Ikebana designs. Her team of students was in charge of choosing which types of clothing, including color, to use that best fit the artwork. "They agreed on black," added Tosa.

The production phase is where Epson comes into the wider picture. The company has been honing its inkjet technology and supporting innovative artists to more freely express themselves through digital printing.

Epson is also promoting its production model of reducing the number of stages on the supply chain from five down to three. This kind of streamlining would not only cut the logistical costs significantly and be environmentally friendlier but also give the consumer more meaningful options. 

Tosa and Epson are hopeful that the innovative approach to fuse art and fashion with business at the crux will encourage more artists to produce and sell tailored printed clothing on demand.

Tosa's Sound of Ikebana video artwork and clothing items are on display until 9 January 2022, at Tokyu Plaza Omotesando, Harajuku, Tokyo.

Student fashion show at KyotoU/Epson press conference
Student fashion show at KyotoU/Epson press conference 

Related link

 Student fashion show | YouTube