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Interview with Sachiko Kodama

by Jasmine Greene

We at Pieces had the pleasure to interview up-and-coming artist Sachiko Kodoma. She uses
ferrofluid materials in her latest installation "morph tower". The tower as well as her other works
introduce various aspects of art and science and captures the beauty magnets can create. You
can check out her site at kodama.hc.

The ferrofluid materials you used for your "morph tower" installation are generally used
for commercial applications. Why did you decide to use this material for your

I was just struck by the beauty of the ferrofluids, especially by their moving spikes.

Spikes symbolize "life" and "growth", and can sometimes also symbolize "violence". I was just
very drawn to the paradoxical beauty and ugliness of the ferrofluids; in other words, I was struck
by their ambiguity.

Your "morph tower" displays very complicated and elaborate designs created by a
computer program. How did you program this sequence and what made you choose
those particular designs?

My first "Morpho Tower" was not complicated. I created the program

myself; the fluid simply moves according to the environmental sound
level. If a person looks toward the "Morpho Tower" and talks in a loud
voice, very big spikes appear quickly. But, soon, I felt like I wanted to
introduce some kinds of "rhythm" (beat or breathing) characteristic of
animals. So, I began collaborating with Yasushi Miyajima, as he knew
of a special technique involving the use of digital music metadata,
wherein music could be used to create "rhythm" and emotion-like
movement of the ferrofluids.

Your tower series has interested both the art and science
community. What is your background in science and what led
you to combine these two paths?

Well, I studied physics at Hokkaido University (after that, I got a Ph.D.

in art). But as a child, I loved to create just about anything. I loved
drawing pictures, making three dimensional kites, playing with coils and motors, growing plants?
anything that involved creating something. I also enjoyed playing musical instruments and
reading and writing. Mathematics was my favorite subject. Now, I thoroughly enjoy playing with
my 5-year-old son. I am not willing to combine just only the art and science community, but also
I am willing to combine ?everything? to be a human being. And it seems to me that art is the
only way to combine everything in this modern society.

What is the significance of the project title Protrude, Flow?

These words are verbs. Not nouns. I wanted to convey and

portray dynamic energy; flowing, metamorphosing texture;
and shapelessness. Also, I did not consciously choose
"ferrofluids" for my project; the significance of the project is
not in the material used: any material could have been used
to give form to this idea.
Much of your work deals with motion and fluidity; would you say that's a common theme
among your art pieces? What messages are you trying to convey to the audience,
especially in the seven questions piece?

Motion and fluidity is one of my themes, because it penetrates our

mind deeply. The movement of liquids and texture brings to mind
something that is living. In the "Seven Question" piece, people
imagine something when they see the ferrofluid movement in the sink
and when they hear the voice from the mirror asking questions. What
they imagine is a projection of people's minds. Here, ferrofluids will
take different meanings, depending on each person's imagination.

What would you say inspires you in your artwork?

I always ask, "What is life?" or "D'oú venons nous?"

My short movie "Breathing Chaos" (8 min, 11 sec) is a small attempt

to answer this question.

Where can we see permanent exhibits of your artwork?

In the United States, the Samuel Freeman Gallery in Santa Monica has a small "Morpho Tower"
piece; I think that if you want to see it, you need to ask the authorities, and they will show it to
you. Also, gallery Sakamaki in Tokyo has some of my small pieces.

There is a very large piece of the "Protrude Flow 2008" in Madrid, which is where I created this
work for the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS) when I stayed there last
year. The museum has the piece, but it is not currently on display (it may be in the storehouse).

A children?s museum in Okinawa prefecture in Japan has the "Equivalent Point" (They call this
work "Nagareru Toge Toge" (meaning "moving Spikes" in Japanese), as it is easier for children
to understand.) This piece is a permanent exhibit.

The Miyakonojo City Museum of Art in Japan has a piece called "Pulsate", which is also a
permanent piece.

I am now creating a permanent exhibit for the National Science and Technology Museum in
Taiwan. Although the museum is a science museum, I was asked to create a piece of artwork.
This is because my art is probably seen as a kind of a gateway linking the worlds of art and

If you are interested in learning more about Sachiko Kodama there is a great exhibition catalog
published by the MNCARS (Maquinas & Almas). There is also a recent book called "Digital by
Design" which includes photographs and some literature on her work. Pieces is grateful to Ms.
Kodama for taking time out of her schedule for this interview.

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