76 Tomu Kawada(AR Three Brothers)

Tomu Kawada(AR Three Brothers)

Tom Kawada, an AR (augmented reality) developer and member of AR Three Brothers, has created many buzz-generating works. Among them is the "Touching Stars Theater" projection mapping which is part of the "Starry Sky Illumination" show held at the Roppongi Hills observation deck. He has also developed AR applications for the Paris fashion show held by the clothing brand Anrealage and for the rock band Bump of Chicken. Another creation is the AR dancing figure in the "Music Station" program which is based on the TV personality Tamori. In this interview, Kawada told us about projects he would like to do in Roppongi.

update_2017.1.18 / photo_ryoma suzuki / text_kentaro inoue

Walking in the streets will become fun with "urawaza"

HUAWEI presents Starry Sky Illumination
An illumination show sponsored by Huawei that was held at the Tokyo City View Roppongi Hills observation deck held until January 29, 2017. In addition to the real night sky, visitors enjoyed the virtual sky by watching the "Touch the Stars Theater" created by Kawada as well as a universe simulator and an omnidirectional panorama provided by the Megastar planetarium.

When you read a guidebook such as the Michelin Guide, a place can look different - it's as if the streets have been given another layer. The Michelin ranks the meals and class of the restaurants through its stars. What we are concerned with is not class, but the augmentation of reality. (Kawada makes a pun with "class" and "augmentation" which are both pronounced "kakucho" in Japanese.) Adding that kind of value will make it fun to walk through the streets.

Similar to the Michelin Guide, I would like to make an "urawaza" (secret trick) guide for Roppongi - like what used to be in the game magazine Famitsu. People who don't know about the urazawa will walk just by; they will only notice that something a bit strange happened. Only the people who know about them will be able to manipulate things. They will suddenly become the privileged class.

If urazawa were sprinkled in the streets, I think people would want to find them; tourists will also probably walk all over the place, eager to try out the different urazawa. The urawaza guide could be placed on the guidebook racks in buildings such as Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. Discovering them will be the start of an adventure.

The equivalent of the Konami Code in the city

Konami Code
A cheat code on Konami games such as the video game console "Gradius". When buttons are pushed in a certain sequence during a game, the player can attain items or features.

Cities seem to be one-sided places - they just offer convenience. People come to cities for dates and for sightseeing and for work, simply to use the functions there. That's why I think it would be good to have points of interaction for city users and dwellers.

It would be fun to use urawaza with things that already exist in the town such as elevator buttons. There's the Konami Code where you push the video game buttons in a certain sequence like "up, up, down, down, left, right, left right, B, A". A similar sequence could be designed for elevator buttons so that when buttons are pushed in a certain order, the elevator suddenly turns into a dance hall. In places where there are no buttons, people could use their smart phones to do things like changing the color of ornamental lights or changing the background music.

It would also be fun to involve other people - getting people such as the staff at art museums to do things for you. In TV dramas, there are often scenes where a bartender sleekly brings a drink to the bar counter, saying "This is from the person over there." It would be good if we could make such subtle moves possible.

Media art that is used by people

Of course, it's a good thing for people to go out and look at art, but now that media art is maturing, I think it's about time for it to become more integrated in our daily lives. I think we should have functioning urawaza in the streets. People in the know will be able to use them - it would give the user the feeling of being a hacker or being part of some scheme.

It would be great if we could have such urazawa all over the country, don't you think- People will be telling each other, "If you go to such and such a place, you will be able to do such and such a thing." I've had this video game-like idea ever since I was a child.