Interview with Manami Sakamoto & Yuri Urano


The SAT had the pleasure of speaking with its artists-in-residence Manami Sakamoto, visual artist from Tokyo, and Yuri Urano, electronic visual and sound artist from Osaka.

Their immersive work Metaract, part of the Satosphere Series presented during the MUTEK festival, explores the duality between analog and digital, and documents elements of nature such as textures, colors and sounds.

Their work will be presented on August 22 in the SAT dome.

The Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) is a research and creation laboratory open to the world, multiplying technological possibilities and the hybridization of realities and artistic disciplines. Its residency program aims to accompany innovative projects to fruition, providing artistic teams with the support they need to progress through one or more phases of creation.



SAT: Is Metaract your first collaboration on a project?

We have collaborated on multiple projects in the past but Metaract is our first to take our previous audio and visual experiments to a new level by incorporating them into an immersive experience in the dome. We have worked on field recordings, video and 3D CG production in a number of natural environments and incorporated them into our work to explore the boundaries by fusing analogue and digital.


SAT: Your project investigates the “cycles of time”. How do both of your artistic approaches connect with this theme?

Within each day is a uniqueness of the Earth’s rotation, depending on the season, the environment, alongside other hidden factors. Not only nature is influenced by these cycles but as humans we undergo transformations physically, emotionally, and in our behaviour. These transformations are embedded in the relationships we have with others. A simple appearance woven into the layers of life. We discovered that we can create a random, organic expression by recording natural elements and incorporating them as textures, colour, and sound into our work. The complexity was achieved through mixing the various phenomena of the natural with digital.

Furthermore, the superimposition of inorganic objects created by 3DCG on these natural expressions creates a special tension between the natural and the artificial. We explore this intersection in our stories, which allows us to experiment with deeper emotional expression in our work. There is also a temporal tension we want to explore. It is a question of documenting natural places that have existed much longer than we have, alongside today’s digital technologies. We will explore the cycles of time through combining natural, organic materials with inorganic materials, creating new forms of collages.


SAT: Domes are intentionally designed for group immersion and environment renderings. What drew you to this medium specifically?

MS: The first and most important point for us is that we can intentionally make the audience stay in a 360°, immersive visual and acoustic environment. Depending on the position of the audience, what they see and hear is different and directly affects their surroundings and their bodies. We thought that this environment, which is close to our everyday life, was most suitable for the organic and random expression that we value. We believe that this environment is the best option for stimulating the fundamental human imagination and reaffirming our theme of the cycle of time and the ‘possibility of coexistence and fusion’ derived from it.

YU: Immersive experiences provide an engaging way for audiences to experience the work directly. A production in an environment with 360-degree monitors and 157 speakers is more like ‘experiencing’ than ‘watching’. The audience gathered here also becomes a character in the production and are immersed in it, making it a special occasion. We are delighted to be able to share this special moment.


SAT: Your process merges sound recording and natural elements with digital objects and representations. Can you tell us more about this process?

MS: On the visual side, my approach is to photograph various objects in nature, such as trees, ice and the ground, and load them into 3DCG as textures, extracting and reflecting their ‘colours’, ‘patterns’ and ‘textures’. This allows the creation of organic and random objects. Concrete depictions of the sea and forests also appear in the work, all of which are created in 3DCG. This is to enable compositions and developments that would not be possible in the real world and to create a sense of discomfort. Furthermore, the aim is to create a special tension when combined with calculated and aligned elements such as noise and particles. This collage of hundreds or thousands of layers is an important process that creates a unique worldview and proves their absolute necessity for each other.

YU: Layering field recordings and software synthesisers, samplers, effects, and modulations. Merging the random sounds of nature with technology to create new sounds. In Metaract I used field recordings from Ousatsu (Mie Prefecture) and Amanohashidate (Kyoto Prefecture) in Japan. These are the core natural elements of the sound. The recordings capture the unfolding of a place in time such as the shimmering of the sea, the sound of insects, birdsongs, and the footsteps of passers-by. These recordings become an attempt to capture the ephemeral sensations one experiences when ‘being there’.


SAT: Are there any specific locations that inspired your work?

Naturally we are inspired by Japan, where we were born and reside. The cycle of the seasons, night and day. ‘Coexistence’ – between two or more things existing together, helping themselves and each other, was the concept word of our project. Incorporating samples from different locations.


SAT: Can you talk about the dynamic of your artistic collaboration on this project?

The first step was how to develop previous works into a dome environment. The theme was to create an immersive experience where everyone interacts in a 360° environment. That is the idea behind the name Metalact = Meta + Interact. After interpreting the theme, the production process begins. We exchange demos and share feedback until we move on to the next step. What is interesting here is that in several previous collaborations we have exceeded each other’s expectations and pushed the collaboration into new areas. For example, camera angles for dynamic scenes with movement and soothing environmental sound recordings.

We thought they were good organic and random happenings that drew inspiration from each other, adding fresh layers to our previous ideas. Discussing how they interact and merge, evolving and shaping the production further together. We are aware of the importance of exchanging ideas and discussion at every stage of the project, allowing the sound and imagery to blossom into the final stage of our shared vision.


SAT: What are your biggest current influences, visually and musically?

MS: What influences me the most is my everyday environment. The conversations I have with the people I meet, their expressions and voices, the sights and events I see. They constantly influence my emotions and give me the opportunity to change and deepen my thoughts. And they are always in flux, sometimes resulting in unexpected changes. But they are very important changes for me and are always a fundamental and important aspect of my work.

YU: Daily life. There are many changes in my life and I’m thankful for the people around me. These things influence my music and make me want to create great experiences. Creating this project with Manami had a big influence on my creative output, exploring new possibilities through experimentation. I would like to continue to collaborate with new technologies, mixing traditional crafts and other things that have been handed down for generations. Inspired by a variety of influences, regardless of genre, expanding on all possibilities.

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