Ainu Asset
an interactive work by Oki Kano and Paweł Janicki

Ainu Asset (screencast), 2020

A collaboration between two artists engaging with sound from different positions: OKI, a master of tonkori, the traditional Ainu stringed instrument, and Janicki, working with software. Designed for a glass pyramid in Moerenuma Park, the work was based on Janicki's original Additive Sound Emission Technique applied to a composition by OKI. The envisaged result involved a unique acoustic situation in which the sound split into multiple sine waves, provoked the audience to move around in an attempt to find one point where the sound was audible. Formally the work underwent a change: from an invisible sound sculpture, it evolved into an opposite version in which the composition was meant to be played from loudspeakers. Nevertheless, what lay at the core of ”AINU ASSET” – the lack of a single source of the tonkori sound and the resulting urge to actively search for it – remained unchanged in both versions, metaphorically depicting the situation of Ainu culture: despite its roots have been cut almost since the beginning of modernization era on Hokkaido but it is still alive, even if one has to search for its real vital source.

The web-based version of the work is a kind of interpretation created out of the impossibility to use the designated physical space. At home everyone can experience the algorithmic undulations of the tonkori sound resulting from moving his or her body in front of the webcam that serves as the interface. This version was created especially for SIAF 2020 Matrix to imagine the principle of this work in action, as an open source tool it can be also used for creative experiments with other sounds.

The program - generative musical piece created thanks to the cooperation of Oki Kano (known professionally as OKI, a Japanese musician of Ainu ancestry) and Pawel Janicki (European posthumanist practicioner) in frames of the SIAF2020 - transforms the gestures and movements performed in front of the camera into the soundtrack. The generated soundtrack is based on samples created specially for the project by Oki Kano.

The project is open to free processing and reconstruction: if you want to use it as part of your own creation or you can redesign some of its elements, you can do it without fear of violating the spirit of the project or the intentions of the authors.

You can download the work (a MaxMSP project with all sounds and a short instructions) from this link: