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emergencies! 001
YAMAKAWA K. Hisako "KODAMA- mischievous echoes"

June 6–September 9, 2006

emergencies! 001
YAMAKAWA K. Hisako "KODAMA- mischievous echoes"


KODAMA are the tree spirits that live in the forest. They are invisible to human eyes but they quietly listen to what the visitors are talking about. When there is no sign of human existence, they start to play with the voices trapped in bubbles of air. Next, visitors hear the echo (also pronounced kodama in Japanese) of the voices in the forest even though there is no one there. The voice stops as soon as you get closer, however, and the forest returns to its usual silence. This artwork is a system that records human voices via microphones, embodies KODAMA by processing a video image and sound in the computer, and hides it as soon as the sensor detects the next visitor is approaching.

Until the early 20th century, the big forests had long been regarded as an uncharted realm where spirits or demons lived, and they inspired numerous folklore genres around the world. KODAMA, as an echo, is a natural system that imitates and converts human voices into different sounds while simultaneously attracting people—just like the mischievous spirits that react to human behavior. This artwork, KODAMA, hires an interactive system that involves visitors by using sensors, computers, and other technologies to present a wonderful world of playful relationships between the forest and the people that enter it. The artist has been interested in both words vocalized by human beings and voices when they talk. Words are invisible and disappear as soon as they are spoken. YAMAKAWA’s efforts to create works that materialize this fragility led to this piece, “KODAMA,” where the voices and breath that people leave in the forest float as transparent air bubbles.

Supported by: TAKEYA Yasuhiko (programming), HAGIWARA Kenichi (photography), MIHARA Soichiro, SUZUKI Yoshihisa, and IAMAS (devices)




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