©Seiko Mikami
Courtesy of Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]Photo: Ryuichi Maruo (YCAM)

16th Art Division Excellence Award

Desire of Codes

Interactive art

MIKAMI Seiko [Japan]


Desire of Codes is an interactive installation with three components expressing an er a in which the boundary between the “body as data” and the “physical body” is growing increasingly ambiguous. Stretching across a white wall is an array of 90 devices equipped with small cameras that resemble the cirri of insects. Hanging from the ceiling are six search arms with inbuilt cameras and laser projectors. Like a wr iggl ing insect the arms search for the visitor’s location and actions, moving toward each person they observe. There is also a circular screen, 4.7 meters across, that resembles the compound eye of an insect. Images from the cameras are combined in a database with those from surveillance cameras in public places. These images from past and present, from the venue and sites in other countr ies, are interwoven and projected on the screen. By reassembling fragments from different times and places, the compound eye depicts a new reality. It represents a desire to selfpropagate through the information ecosystem with visitors themselves as objects of observation and expression, and expresses the contemporary existence of the physicalbody.

Reason for Award

This spectacular installation, consisting of three components, enables the viewer to directly experience today’s information age, in which we are both watching and being watched. The work is composed of a structure that wriggles like an insect’s feelers, search arms with inbuilt video cameras, and a machine that resembles a pseudo-organism with a screen like a compound eye. By combining and projecting images of the viewer and images from surveillance cameras installed in public spaces, the work presents to us a world in which the line is blurred between”living flesh” and the “digitized body” captured by a mechanical eye. Expressing the degree to which human perceptions and desires are subject to a host of technology-mediated changes, the artist’s painstaking exploration confronts this frightening truth with coolness and strength.