July 19th,

Challenge the technology step by step


Challenge the technology step by step

In order to realize collaboration with various domains, Dentsu Lab Tokyo occasinally hosts talk session where artists, technologists, data scientists, scholars, writers come together.
Taken from Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Caretta Fountain”, a fountain of turtle, this talk session is named “Kamekai” (which literally translates as the “Turtle Gathering”) and aimed to bring various thoughts and view points among the participants and create an interactive session that won’t become a mere lecture.

Hitsuji / ひつじ

Sheep – Hiroki Kaji
Born in 1989. Completed the Tama Art University Graduate School of Design Department Information Design Research Course. Project Researcher of the Yasuaki Kakehi Laboratory, SFC, Keio University. Conduct expressive activities with the theme of “reversing system and surface layers”, in addition to engaging in advertisements using computers and the development work on commercial facilities.

Visible Motion

The Visible Motion emerges ripples as if the tires are passing over. This installation was designed for the AISIN SEIKI Co., Ltd. at Milano Design Week 2017. I was in charge of software to operate the mechanism.

Visible Motion

Powerful equipment is moving under the water. To represent the four tire tracks, the devices with the magnet on the top are moving.

We used line tracers here. The machine recognizes its own position, following the black line and looking at the intersection and the circle. We controlled in which direction the machine moves by changing the color of the course with red and green full-color LEDs.

We controlled instructions such as running, turning, accelerating and decelerating. There are 15 courses in all, and there is also a trail of moving from one course to the others. There are four times as many courses as I explained first, and we have adjusted the total of a little less than 120 courses till the morning of the presentation day.



Sheep: We are working with NIDEC CORPORATION. The project “Motorize” widely informs about the motor and proposes the possibility of the new motor. We have created the system “SMART PET BOTTLE” that automatically opens a plastic bottle cap by operating a motor with a cell phone.


When producing the project, we ordered the circuit board parts from China. After finishing the drawing plan, we ordered parts. Two weeks later, the parts arrived in Japan and then we assembled the mechanism. The application may have lost communication with the system due to the heat from the motor. We were worried about the risk would notice for the first time after doing the actual operation. If problems arise, we must wait two weeks to get the new parts again and to fix them. Fortunately, none of that has happened, but it was a race against time.

Finally, we have made 5 units. When we released them, someone said that “does NIDEC seriously make this?” Our work has received a great response and we have earned a good reputation from the client.

Japanese dry landscape garden with electronic board

At last, we introduce the new models at the prototype stage. Recently, I am hooked on PIC, a microminiature microcontroller. When connecting the power supply, the written computer program stars to run.

I was born in 1989 and ever since I can remember, Windows has already been used at my home. When I entered the university, Arduino had been used in the class. So, things that contain the minimum necessary information on a small board are irresistibly attractive to me.

While thinking about making the beautiful system, I began to think about facing each and every little technology. Now, I am working on creating the Japanese traditional dry landscape garden with using electronic boards.


Sound comes out of the speaker circled with the red line on the left side of the screen. The dry landscape garden reminds the invisible flow of water. Making the dry landscape garden by using an electronic board is to try to understand what is happening on this board, imagining an invisible electric current flow.

Who can fully understand and explain what kind of phenomenon is occurring on this board? I have created it but I cannot explain it perfectly as a creator. Besides, inside our cell phones and personal computers we use, hundreds or thousands of times and more complicated and faster processing is done. Thinking like that, do you feel even afraid of the processing done in your pocket? Now, depending on the development of deep learning, there is a black box that even developers cannot keep up with, and the situation is accelerating. I think that the minimal equipment in this era can communicate something and I am continuing my production work.

Today, I would be grateful if you could think seriously to challenge technology step by step. While moving forward with the Motorize project that I introduced earlier, I realized that in order to operate each hardware, software and individual functions to work properly. I must understand the essence of each function. I hope to hear your opinion.

Thank you very much.


What made you interested in the system?

Sheep:When I am involved in art, I think there is a sense of sensation that it is comfortable to see with my eyes and it feels good to hear with my ears. Even when I understand the system, I reflect the same kind of comfort. So, I thought it was possible to create beauty with the system. I think I can create programming as if I am drawing a picture.

What kind of things do you want to do in client work?

Sheep:I appreciate that I am able to challenge projects that I have not yet tried. I call it my own “cancellation project of actual results”.

Regarding to the last story, how can you face each technology step by step?

I think it is important to think of the person who made it. When watching the iPhone application, you may wonder “why did the designer put a button here?” Have you ever found the answer as a result of thinking about that question for an hour? 

To face technology is to learn technology so that people who do not move their hands can be in the position of a person moving their hands.

I feel that is a paranoia of the person who moves their hands. I wonder if those people who do not move their hands are so evil. When facing technology, I think that there is a possibility to the approach from a person who do not make anything is also a valid point. That approach may be confusing for those who make things.



Dentsu Lab Tokyo