December 18th,

Possibility of fantasy and technology


Possibility of fantasy and technology

Masataka Kimura / 木村匡孝

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.

■TASKO: Masataka Kimura
Born in Tokyo in 1981, Masataka is a factory director of Design and Manufacture division in TASKO Inc. He specialized in “Research about Peace and Robot” in Electric Art Laboratory while studying in Tama Art University. He became independent and established “TOKYO KIMURA FACTORY” after working as an assistant in Maywa Denki. Since then, he has been working on production of “Daft Machines” such as “KIMURA formula mechanism series” using motors and engines as well as machines that people have no idea whom to order. In 2012, he participated in starting up of “TASKO Inc.” which is a general production company. He takes on various jobs concerning electricity and machines such as collaboration with other genres and technical directions.



As you can see, TASKO Inc. is almost a factory. We have divisions of Stage Production, Design Engineering, Produce and Design Web. Plus, Art Production division was newly added from this year. Art Production division is in charge of production design.

tasko inc 2017 prototyping movie

Were you running a factory by yourself in a rural area?

I am often misunderstood, but I am not a president but a factory director in TASKO Inc. There are various divisions in TASKO Inc. and I am in the division of manufacturing. Before starting TASKO, I was running a factory by myself in a rural area.


Mr. Kimura taking a photo in front of TOKYO KIMURA FACTORY

―Were you running a factory in a rural area?

Mr. Kimura:Yes, I was running a factory in a rural area.
The factory was named TOKYO KIMURA FACTORY and various manufacturing materials were lined up in a space of 8 mats. I was running a manufacturing company by myself under the name of KIMURA, just like HONDA. With the name of KIMURA, I was unexpectedly trusted…haha.



I have made various machines as my works and pursued in technology since I was a student. I used to make a series of these walking machines. I sometimes used hard materials while I sometimes made moving paper crafts. For this one, I found a junk spiral spring in Akihabara so I thought I could use this for something.


mini KIMURA |KIMURA paper craft series

When I was a child, bipedal walking was hot in Tsukuba Expo. For example, WAP(Waseda Automatic Pedipulator). ASIMO came into the world around 1999 when I was attending Art University. I entered university originally to study plane shape graphics, but I was impressed that technology of bipedal walking that had been considered to be impossible came up before twenty-first century and I also wanted to make it by myself. I considered mechanism without any knowledge of technology, but I enjoyed the work very much and felt very comfortable. Since then, I have been making things that use machines. It was when I was around 20 years old.

MMI(Musical Mechanical Instrument)-KIMURA(Tasko)×Tomoaki Yanagisawa(rhizomatiks)

As for the things derived from the works at that time, I am making a robot band named MMI these days. MachineMusic normally moves one sound with one mechanism stably, so most of them have a unit of 12 scales (one octave) when we try to make sound. I didn’t think the idea was smart and that is why I started making this.

―I feel mechanism got much more difficult compared to bipedal walking you mentioned before.

That’s right. I think I could obtain various technologies through this work in the past 20 years. Feasibility is low for personal works like MMI but it helps me to challenge and obtain new technologies. I was originally interested in a mechanism of guitar and planning to have a session by playing the drums by myself and making a robot arm that presses down the frets and plucks the strings. However, it was difficult to match with the swings that are unique to the machines, so I ended up making a guitar, a bass guitar and a drum to make a band. The performance is bad and they make the unexpected phrase suddenly and never improve no matter how hard they practice, but I think they are the one and only band work that is not easy to deal with. Machine music is different from mere DTM, so MMI is one of my own answers for machine music and robot band. There are many exhibitions overseas right now, so I just repeat bringing them abroad and bringing them back again after one month exhibition.


Maywa Denki

From “Maywa Denki” to “TASKO”

This is an artist, Maywa Denki. The one in the center is a president and I am in the leftmost. For “Maywa Denki”, Mr. Tosa who is a president is “Maywa Denki”. Mr. Tosa runs Maywa Denki as an artist and there is various staff working for him, for example those who manage things, produce stage, and design or produce machines. One day, we were talking what if we replaced Mr. Tosa with someone else and this is how TASKO was born. The name of TASKO originates from an initial letter of each staff, manager Taichi, stage director Shoda, machine production Kimura, and designer Oda. We could not decide the name at all and finally ended up with the name TASKO.


Organization chart of Maywa Denki and TASKO

Mr. Tosa, a president of Maywa Denki is full of fantastic ideas. He comes up with a lot of great ideas. The team has realized all of them so they can do anything, and I think that is why this team is attractive. They are not only good at stage and art related work production but also good at logistics and management. They are also good at video production. They are also familiar with exhibition and product designs. The team can basically do anything, from intangibles to tangibles and from products to services.


A story of ”Control” that became a turning point in my life

I think MV’s job of androp “World.Words.Lights.” was a turning point in my life. I had been focusing only on making machines and I had no idea about control until that time. For control, my ex-colleague Yuri Suzuki who works as a product designer in Maywa Denki and Mr. Yanagisawa from Rhizomatiks have been doing. I did not do anything else other than making machines and moving them before, so I was surprised to know that machines change like this by adding control technologies. I was living in a rural area and did not have chance to communicate with device engineers before, so I was really behind this kind of control technology trend. It became a big turning point for me from perspective of collaboration as well.



The possibilities that fantasy and technologies bring

I think TASKO is good at fantasy and technologies. The precise concept of Maywa Denki’s Romance Engineering Exhibition that was held in 2002 should be “We can’t fly in the sky just because we want to fly, but on the other hand, imaginary scene of flying the sky can’t be produced even if you have technologies but not fantasy. Thus, something new will not emerge without fantasy and technologies.” A solid determination of artists to realize fantasy is challenged, and I think this is what we are specialized in.

I was in charge of “Four-dimensional Pocket Project” by Fuji Xerox. The project’s purpose was to make a tool of Doraemon, and the theme given were only two pictures in Secret Gadget Dictionary. There was no story so I could not get the feel at all. It was very difficult since they were black and white and I was not sure about the colors as well. It was to be operated by battery, so I made it to be battery-operated. However, it couldn’t be raised up due to heavy weight. Robot arm was very thin compared to the existing ones, so I found it very difficult to make it similar to this one.

―Is robot arm also handmade?

Yes, robot arm is also handmade. I made it very light and design became similar too. Fantasy is very vague and we can imagine anything in a favorable space. However, space restrictions suddenly come up when we try to make it happen. There are various restrictions such as gravity, resource and time. It is easy to draw a picture like this, but some of them may not fit into CAD drawings, so how to realize that is the key here.



Travelling across numerical value and feeling

I made an application to measure the number and speed of rotation. Numerical value such as motor’s rotation is important for handicraft. I know I want to get this speed, but I am not sure what the current rpm is at all. Therefore, I made an application for smartphone where I can get to know rpm for a certain rotation.

The speed is sometimes totally different from what I have expected, so I think it is good to use this application at that time. These days, personal fabrication as we can see in FAB LAB is getting popular, and people other than engineers can also make things by using digital fabrication tool.

I was wondering if there is anything useful for people who do not have hardware environment for fabrication, and then I thought I would make software where they can travel across numerical values and feelings.


Perfumery Organ 2015

Perfumery Organ…this is a fragrance organ that was inspired by the “Gamut of Odors”, a description method for fragrances devised by the scientist named Piesse about 100 years ago. The odor is assigned to the sounds, as the heavier odors such as vanilla and musk are assigned to lower notes while lighter odors such as floral are assigned to higher notes. The mechanism is we make sounds with bottles containing air, and then not only music but also fragrance can be performed together. The sound is actually quite amazing. Perfumery Organ was made about 100 years ago, thus some of the fragrances are not available right now. However, I think this method of exhibiting fragrance and sound became very new after 100 years.

driving the piano 2017

PHV has battery, motor and engine. Its basic mechanism is motor and battery are operated, and then engine gets boosted if more power is required. We are trying to visualize it as much as possible. The person in cockpit is a driver. If we turn power by regarding persons as motor and battery, flywheel starts turning round. Once this driver puts the car in gear, punch card comes down and music is performed. Torque is required when music reaches climax, so engine that is the biggest person shows up to boost power. Actually, electricity is not used at all. Piano is performed once projection on punch card pulls lever that leads to keyboard. For your information, all of them are live sounds.

―That’s an amazing machine.

Yes, it is indeed amazing. For punch card, we generated MIDI data to create laser cut and put one by one on the board. That takes a lot of time. All of them have to be in full operation. All of them including accountant and president were making punch card. Invisible Designs Lab is in charge of parts other than music.

History of technology that keeps attracting people

I am attracted by technology and in deep love with its history. I started factory by myself since I wanted environment where I can always realize what I want to make.

© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Leonard da Vinci helicopter and Modern helicopter

This might be a well-known story but the left one is the Leonard da Vinci helicopter and the right one is the modern helicopter. It is said that helicopter’s origin is bamboo-copter. It is said that bamboo-copter’s origin goes back to first century B.C. and was brought to Europe around 15th century. I am not sure if this is related but then there are sketches of Da Vinci after that. However, there was no power that can carry people and float at that time so it was finally realized in modern times when a gas turbine engine was developed. There was no output of fantasy until now.


Gas turbine and Aerobin

The basis of gas turbine engine is the one named Aeolipile on the right. This was invented by Hero of Alexandria. This is said to be a prototype but at that time, it was just a rotating ball since nobody had any idea how this mechanism can be used. This was also first century B.C.

スクリーンショット 2018-07-25 16.28.48
Provided by The United States Naval Research Laboratory

Whip and shock wave

Whip is also amazing. It is said that this tip exceeds sonic speed, and I think it started from a story that it makes big sound when someone shakes string. Then, it became a story that cows escape from the big sound. These stories were tied up together and this is how whip was made. Whip tapers to a point and its speed increases as the volume decreases. If this continues, the tip exceeds sonic speed and makes a big sound. I thought the way to obtain a sonic speed from nothing was wonderful. When thinking that ancient people made this, I always think we can make much more amazing things with all these technologies and products around us right now. Bamboo-copter and Aeolipile were realized as a helicopter 20 centuries after they were invented in a different place each other, but unlike the age when technologies were communicated in different languages using carriage and ships, instant communication is possible using internet, same languages and protocol right now. As long as timing is good, invention which we have never seen might be possible in a few hours. I think it’s such an age “now”.


Dentsu Lab Tokyo