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Desire of Codes

Seiko Mikami

Anticipating the future of perception
Desire for new dimensions emerging from the relationship between information society and the human body

Seiko Mikami has been attracting worldwide attention with her trailblazing artistic activities themed around "information society and the human body" since the 1980s, and went on to produce works that critically examine the connection between art and technology from the '90s onwards. At this occasion she unveiled a large-scale installation focusing on "surveillance society and the human body" as a central theme, aiming to conjure a new relationship between society and human perception.
As a result of the dramatic developments in recent years, surveillance technology is ubiquitously pervading both public spaces and electronic networks, where it reveals the ambiguous nature of a discipline that comprises the contradicting notions of unlimited expansiveness and limiting control. This work pursuing new forms of corporeity and desire that emerge from this current state of things immediately reflected the spatial/temporal transformations caused by multi-dimensional interaction with a database that continues to grow with the advancement of information technology.
March 20 - June 6, 2010
Studio A
Special Site


Desire of Codes (Commissioned by YCAM / World Premiere)

Seiko Mikami

Desires inspired by a system of multiple views and perspectives


Desire of Codes (Commissioned by YCAM / World Premiere)

Seiko Mikami

Desires inspired by a system of multiple views and perspectives

Interactive installation consisting of three parts
A large number of devices resembling tentacles with built-in small cameras are placed across a huge wall ("90 Wriggling Wall Units"), while six robotic "search arms" equipped with cameras and projectors are suspended from the ceiling in the center of the exhibition space ("6 Multiperspective Search Arms") observe and follow visitors with insect-like wriggling moves. Furthermore, a giant round-shaped screen that looks like an insect's compound eye is installed in the back of the exhibition space ("Compound Eye Detector Screen"). Projected onto this screen is a complex mixture of images transmitted from the wall-structures' built-in video cameras, and footage recorded by surveillance cameras installed at various places around the world, stored in the "Desire of Codes" database. In addition, superdirective microphones set up at various places inside the venue pick up voices, machine sounds and other noises in the installation space caused by visitors and by the work itself. Based on the conditions of each of the three parts, sounds are culled from a database of previously recorded audio files, to generate a constantly changing acoustic setting.
The installation's acoustic environment and projections, together illustrating a new reality of fragmentarily recombined aspects of time and space, investigate into contemporary appearances of human corporeality and desire via the visitor as a subject of expression and surveillance at once.

90 Wriggling Wall Units
90 devices are exhaustively distributed across a wall. As soon as a visitor enters the area in front of the wall, the devices' heads start blinking, and all together they move in the respective visitor's direction like an insect's tentacles. The mechanic sounds coming from each of the devices create the impression of a wriggling animate organism.
Some of the devices are additionally fitted with highly sensitive miniature cameras able to detect motion and sound beyond human perception. Footage of visitors shot with these cameras is fed together with data of the wall structure's operation into the "Desire of Codes" database that controls the operation of the work as a whole, from where the images are transmitted to the "Compound Eye Detector Screen" at the other end of the exhibition space.

6 Multiperspective Search Arms
Six robotic "search arms" resembling tentacles of an insect are suspended from the ceiling. Cameras and projectors mounted onto the ends of these arms quickly detect, follow and record the movements of approaching visitors, and simultaneously project the recorded images. Through the looped feedback resulting from the search arms' endlessly repeated input (filming) and output (projection), the visitor perceives "reality" as a repetition of "voids".
Data of the search arms' operation are stored in the "Desire of Codes" database that controls the operation of the work as a whole, and are ultimately reflected in the installation's light and soundscape.

Compound Eye Detector Screen
The "Desire of Codes" database is built from images of the exhibition venue (visitors' skins, eyes, hair, bags, etc.) recorded in real-time by the devices on the wall; images filmed five seconds, five hours, and five days earlier; and footage from surveillance cameras in public spaces (such as airports, parks, hallways or crowded streets) around the globe, picked up from the Internet. Images in this database are separated and transferred to the large round-shaped screen resembling an insect's compound eye, where they mix in every single one of the 61 hexagonal cells (facets) that make up the screen. Looking at the constantly changing projected scenery with its shifting time axes, the visitor feels as if watching a segmentalized dream or memories stored in the brain, and discovers the desires that are automatically generated through the act of monitoring.
(Aug, 2011)
Tour Information
  • May 17 - August 3, 2014 Wonder of Fantasy: The Transformation of Contemporary Image-scape
    Venue: 国立台湾美術館(台湾)

  • July 5 - September 8, 2013 Artist as Catalyst
    Venue: La Alhóndiga Cultural Centre(スペイン)

  • February 13 - 27, 2013 Exhibition of Award-winning Works of the 16th Japan Media Arts Festival
    Venue: The National Art Center, Tokyo (Tokyo)

  • August 30 - September 30, 2012 Ars Electronica 2012
    Venue: Lentos Art Museum (Austria)

  • October 22 - December 18, 2011 Venue: NTT Intercommunication Center [ICC] (Tokyo, Japan)

  • August 6 - September 19, 2010 SPACE INVENTIONS
    Venue: Vienna Künstlerhaus(オーストリア)

  • July 31 - September 5, 2010 TRUST
    Venue: Dortmunder U (German)

Programming for the wriggling wall: Sota Ichikawa
Programming for the compound eye detector screen: Norimichi Hirakawa
Hardware for the wriggling wall: TAKEGAHARASEKKEI
Development for search arms device: Ryota Kuwakubo


Artist Talk

March 21, 2010


Artist Talk

In this talk event, Seiko Mikami and Takashi Ikegami explained the backgrounds and creative processes of their respective works. The talk session eventually highlighted similarities and differences in the two artists' takes on notions of "real-time" and "interaction", and hinted at once at the complexity and extensibility of the "surveillance society and the human body" theme of the main exhibition.
March 21, 2010
Guest: Seiko Mikami, Takashi Ikegami
Moderator: Kazunao Abe (YCAM)

Sound Live “fmtm”

March 20, 2010


Sound Live “fmtm”

This was a live sound performance by Keiichiro Shibuya and evala, who were both in charge of the sound production for Takashi Ikegami's work "MTM [Mind Time Machine]". Based on the program for their piece "for maria installation version" that was concurrently on display in the patio, Shibuya and evala created for this event a 5.1ch + X sound stage incorporating MTM and the entire foyer space.
March 20, 2010
Live: Keiichiro Shibuya, evala



Organized by:

  • Yamaguchi City Foundation for Cultural Promotion

In association with:

  • Yamaguchi City
  • Yamaguchi City Board of Education

Grants from:

  • The Asahi Shimbun Foundation

Corporate sponsors:

  • AD Science Co.
  • Microvision, Inc.


  • Tama Art University Media Art Lab.
  • The University of Tokyo
  • Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Department of General Systems Studies Ikegami lab
  • ATAK, DGN co., ltd.
  • Perfektron LLC.

Co-developed with:

  • YCAM InterLab

Produced by:

  • Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]
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