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James Clar is an interactive light designer and an installation artist. James shows his work at a range of places, such as "Triennale di Milano" in Italy and New Museum of Contemporary Arts. He is drawing the attention of the various fields. Recently, he was invited to DOTMOV 2004 and The Media Arts Festival in Japan, sponsored by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Also, he is currently creating an interactive video capture system for one of Unite Bamboo's outlets in Daikanyama. As it is noticed above, he is expanding his production to outside the U.S. His unique and minimal work represents his excellent skills and his interesting originality with a number of elements of animations. Cool visited his studio in Brooklyn this time. We asked James about his vision toward design, including his experience of visiting Japan.

COOL: Firstly, can you tell be your brief profile and career background?

James Clar: I studied film at New York University. After that, I went straight to New York University’s graduate program, ITP, Interactive Telecommunication’s program and studied visual system. I also worked at Enybean Atelier, which is a media collective in New York and Fablica in Italy.

C: What made you start doing lighting art?

JC: As a visual designer, I think it’s important to understand how the eye works, so working with light is really basic level, so you can play a lot with lights depending on your idea. There are many lighting artists who take one theory and play out of it like three-dimensional design. That’s one way you eye can see data. Another way is a color data. When you close your one eye, you can see all the different colors bouncing, white, brown, and etc… After you see it, your eye is attributed to dataset. It’s a minimum system tries to recreate a color dataset. A visual designer needs to know your eye is always the one to pick up the data and interoperating the data later one. And to work with light as the media, you have to know how light works, whether it’s a bounce light or a reflective light, and need to use those ideas to spread those ideas. A musician composes sounds; I, as a visual artist, create lights.

C: You were mostly working on animation in a film, weren’t you?

JC: Actually, I started out film. In the first year of undergraduate, I was majoring in business, which does not relate to arts at all. I then switched over to film; and my parents freaked out. I used to play with my dad’s camera. My friends and I had fun doing the animations, so I thought why not just trying to do that as a career? Working within film and being in a film department, it got hard. A filmmaking is a huge production and requires so many people. It’s heard to get things precisely the way you want. The ideas you have need to go through so many channels when you are creating a film, but animation seems logical. Everything is on screen, so total control is on the screen. I then started 3D animation because in 3D animation you can have more dynamic and more lighting works.

C: Are you interested in any other art?

JC: I’m interested in minimalism. Minimalism means cutting all the extra stuff. It’s just a clean idea and no extras. I love Dia:Beacon, which is a warehouse has all the minimal arts.

C: What your concept behind your work?

JC: I created a new piece, “Circle Square” using the minimalism concept. This is really clean and trying to enable the concept. Another piece, called “Interactive Digital Dress,” I had this collaboration with Hariri and Hariri in New York. We developed a kind of a bendable screen. One of its ideas of the piece was a screen embedded into a dress. If you talk to the dress or interacted with the dress, the screen in the dress creates a certain pattern and react depending on how you to talk the dress, which means the clothing has a life of its own. Another idea of the dress was also to have a creature living in the dress. It’s a visual reprehensive like Tamagochi. The idea of this is to look at clothes more dynamic way.

C: From where do you get your inspiration?

JC: A lot of the concepts come from animation. I learn how to use a space and how to create a movement by counting frames and observing its timing. When working at Eyebeam, I was exposed to many established artists. I saw how they functioned and how they brought out the ideas. I also get influence from seeing other artist’s work.

C: What is the most important thing during the process of creating your work?

JC: A lot of the time, my work has wires and microchips embedded into lights, so until the end I don’t know if the light really works. It’s not unusual that I plugged in the light, and nothing happened, so it’s important that I always make sure if each process of my project works properly.

C: Is there any designers you have influenced?

JC: Ingo Maurer is awesome. He does a lot of lighting designs, but his pieces are static, different from my work. It’s more like a product design. Other designers, people like James Turrel and Dan Flavin, they have been doing lighting arts for a long. It’s interesting to see where their ideas and influences coming from.

C: You were invited to the Digital Film Festival, “DOTMOV 2004,” in Sapporo, Japan. How was it?

JC: Shift, a web magazine, promoted the exhibition on motion graphic works at Soso Café in Sapporo. I represented my work at there. They wanted me to present my work because it was something different. I like Japan a lot. I’m trying to build up more reputation and basis in Japan, so I can work both in New York and Tokyo. I think there’s a great market for my work in Tokyo. For instance, as for the culture, Tokyo easily accepts the new technology. When I was there the reception for the work I did was really positive.

C: You exhibited your work at the 8th Media Arts Festival, sponsored by the Agency for the Cultural Affairs, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in February. It was your second time showing your work in Japan. How was it?

JC: The exhibition for Japan Media Arts Festival was great! The other works were really great to see; there was a wide range of work from experimental video games, new media art, to animations. The opening ceremony was really nice at the Westin Tokyo; a lot of press was there. I think for the two weeks the exhibition was open; and over 44,000 people came. In Tokyo I was just one the "NHK Digista," which is a digital arts television program.

C: What’s your vision toward the future?

JC: I would like to continue experimenting and playing the ideas in lighting to have more abilities, but also in a long way, I would like to get into more environmental design. Some projects I’m going to hand out in the near future, I’m starting to move more toward not just product but a larger scale.


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James Clar
James Clar has been recognized by numerous publications such as Frame, Axis, IdN, including being awarded the "Design Distinction Award" by I.D. Magazine 2004 for his thesis project done at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunication’s Program. After receiving his Master’s James did work at Benetton's Fabrica design facility in Italy, he was an artist-in-residence at Eyebeam Atelier in New York, and was the inaugural artist for the FedEx Institute of Technology & Lantana Projects in Memphis. James has exhibited at numerous gallery spaces including New Museum of Contemporary Arts, Chelsea Art Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, Milan Trienniale, and collaborative work for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York. Through his progressive work he has been invited to share his insight by guest lecturing at various conferences in New York, Seoul, Tokyo, and Memphis.



text by Kazumi UMEZAWA, photo by Noho KUBOTA
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awQ2WU Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!
Cialis URL 2010/03/08(Mon)16:07:38 edit
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