Todd Eckert and Tin Drum

KAGAMI (“mirrror” in Japanese) is a new concert installation concept, created by Ryuichi Sakamoto in collaboration with the company Tin Drum. We talked with Todd Eckert, founder of the company and person in charge of the installation, to know more. This is part of the series of interviews with professionals operating at the intersection of Culture and Digital

Tell us a bit about your work at Tin Drum
I am the founder of Tin Drum, and even though we have lots of people working for the company all over the world, there isn’t much I’m not involved with in one way or another. So everything from Directing some of our shows to occasionally cleaning sinks.

How did the performance KAGAMI come about?
Ryuichi Sakamoto was a defining influence on how I understand the world. I founded the company to create experiences that would have a lasting impact, and so he was a natural choice from the very beginning. His relationship with the piano was singular, and difficult to convey completely in a traditional two dimensional, flat screen presentation. So we talked about it conceptually together, and built upon a shared desire to make something beautiful and authentic.

You define the event as a mixed reality concert. Can you walk us through it?
The audience begins in a room designed to prepare them for a new experience in an unfamiliar (at least for most of them) medium. Through historical imagery, sound, scent and light, they are provided with a bit of time to become grounded in a new way of thinking. Then they are brought to a large circle with 80 seats facing inwards where they are fitted with glasses they can see through, which will afford them the ability to experience Ryuichi playing piano with bespoke digital scenography in the center of the room. They are free to get up and walk around the space as they see fit once the show begins.

How technically challenging was this performance to develop?
No one had ever made anything remotely like this, so every facet of its development was extremely difficult. It was as if we had to invent a hammer so we could build a house we had designed.

How was the process of working with Ryuichi Sakamoto on this project?
He was among the most generous collaborators I have ever encountered. Every single moment of working with him was a perfect combination of genius and curiosity.

What reactions have you been getting from the audience so far?
It’s been so gratifying. They clap, they cry, they even dance.

This may seem like an obvious question, but what made Ryuichi Sakamoto and his work so special to so many people?
I think it’s easy for an artist in any medium to get so over-focused on the importance – or externalities – of their work, that they lose whatever inspired them to create in the first place. With Ryuichi that never happened – he was always searching for new ways of understanding sound, and as a result he never got even a little bit boring. So it doesn’t matter what you’re into, what genre of music most appeals to you, he probably contributed something wonderful to it.

Is this work ultimately about empathy?
I would argue that all great art and any medium starts there.

Are there plans to present this concert in other venues?
Thankfully we have more than 30 locations around the world currently circling the show.

What other Tin Drum projects would you highlight?
We’ve only made three finished pieces. The Life with Marina Abramovic, which I also directed, and Medusa with Sou Fujimoto, directed by Yoyo Munk.

How do you measure success?
Emotional impact is honestly everything – it’s the only thing that lasts!

What is your typical day like?
I get up early and run every day, and since our projects are all over the world I’m afraid I spend more time in calls and conferences than I would like. There’s so much I want to make, and I have this insane enthusiasm for the possibilities of this medium, so there’s a lot happening all at once. But still my biggest vice is music, so I am that dopey guy in a bar at midnight on a Tuesday watching some band nobody’s ever heard of. And usually loving it.

How do you envision mixed reality, in particular in how it relates to art, in 5 years?
We’re approaching technology as a method to create experiences that feel like they are happening in real time, which changes the relationship between artist and audience in a really basic way. I think it’s a more human experience, really. So perhaps in five years we will have established this as having a beneficial impact and perhaps even change the perception of longevity. At very least I hope it will extend the life span of great work. That’s the whole point.

By | 2023-08-18T09:40:13+01:00 August 18th, 2023|Interviews|0 Comments

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