In Defining Multimedia, Ken Jordan presents the limitations and problems encountered whilst trying to define this new medium of artistic expression. In the essay, he presents five core principles to which he believes most, if not all, pieces of multimedia art should adhere to: Integration, interactivity, hypermedia, immersion and narrativity. Interactivity is one of the principles that most interested the digital artist Hisako K. Yamakawa in her work Kodama (mischievous echoes). The result of the work, and what is presented to its audience, is built up on the interaction between audience and piece. It is continuously in the process of change and development as it engages traditional art mediums such as sound (music) and visual imagery (cinema) and harnesses the individual input of the audience. With this interactivity the audience is placed in an active role after their impulse to engage with the piece is stimulated by the mischievous Kodama fairies. Even before the audience enters the surreal forest environment, they are already immersed in this simulated reality of invisible beings that mimic the voices of forest wanderers.

Inspired by the Japanese lore of the Kodama fairies, the art piece captures the sounds of the audience and transforms them into bubbles that trap and then play back the voice. The voice is presented in these bubbles so as to challenge the notion of voice being an invisible medium. The installation serves to remind the audience of “the existence of voice” in the physical sphere and to arouse the audience’s awareness of “transparent media in their daily life”.

Before even entering the room, you are drawn into the mystery, by the illusion of an array of voices. Upon entering the surprisingly empty room, the sensors of the computer will stop all sound so that the audience is left surrounded by the natural silence of the forest that is depicted on screen. Any comments made whilst the audience is in the room are recorded via microphones and depicted in visual terms as pockets of air or as bubbles floating in the forest. They move around the projection in coordination with the audience’s movement via motion sensors. As soon as the audience has left the room, the bubbles mischievously echo your individual sound so as to draw you in once again.

So as to fully immerse the audience into the illusion, all equipment was kept out of sight. The artist aimed to make the audience focus solely on the content and the experience of the installation rather than the process of its creation.

N Roller