This, is Toshio Iwai, an interactive media artist. He is probably best known for his work in non-traditional musical interfaces. He is also responsible for the Tenori-On which was his attempt at creating a new musical instrument which, from what I can see, is used pretty widely by many artists like Little Boots. Over the course of his career (which continues on today), he has made some really neat things from a computer game (Otocky) to media art installations. Iwai also was an artist in residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

I was first introduced to Iwai’s works when a friend of mine showed me a game created by Iwai for the Nintendo DS, Electroplankton. Now THIS I thought was something cool. This “game” consisted of ten different “mini-games” where you could make music by untraditional means like controlling tiny plankton falling onto different leaves which emit different tones when struck. What blew me away about this was how music was created. I was used to fret & finger positions on guitars or valves on trumpets – sort of traditional ways for making music. Electroplankton showed me that other interfaces for music making exist and those different interfaces can be as wonderfully absurd as spinning circular plankton or clapping your hands over the DS microphone to get different reactions from a group of plankton.

Soon after, I looked up this guy and found lots of other really neat things that he has done. I found an interesting article by Art Intellegence on Iwai as well as a video clip of him talking about “Visual-Musical Interfaces”. I see that some of the installations shown in that video was ported over to Electroplankton. Yamaha, who worked with Iwai in creating the Tenori-On, features a variety of artists using the instrument. There’s one particular video on the feature site where Little Boots meets with Iwai who shows her some of things he was working on at that time. The bit where he hovers a little box over some lights is really really cool!

If this is your sort of thing and never heard of Toshio Iwai, I strongly recommend that you check him out!

Image Credit: Image taken from Wikipedia Article uploaded by kandinski on Flickr stream. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 License