25th Special Achievement Award

TONE Yasunao

Sound Artist / Music Composer / Performance Artist


Born in Tokyo, 1935. TONE graduated from Chiba University. In 1958, he took an interest in musical improvisation and formed Japan’s first improvisational music group, Group Ongaku, with KOSUGI Takehisa, SHIOMI Mieko and MIZUNO Shuko. In 1962, he joined Fluxus at the invitation of its member, George MACIUNAS whom he had met through ICHIYANAGI Toshi. He was involved in the Avant-Garde movement through other artist groups such as Hi-Red Center and Team Random. He is also known as a contemporary art critic. After moving to the United States in 1972, TONE befriended John CAGE and other artists, and participated in numerous events. He is particularly known for his musical work, which often involves noise resulting from errors intentionally caused on a CD player using disks covered with Scotch tape. He also incorporates AI in his work to compose musical pieces that consist of him interfering with the virtual performance of his own. He has been invited to countless international experimental music festivals. In 2002, TONE won the Golden Nica Prize for the Digital Musics Category at the Prix Ars Electronica.

Reason for Award

TONE Yasunao is one of the leading artists of Japan’s postwar Avant-Garde movement. Since the 1950s, he has fundamentally redefined “art” through his vast volume of works as a composer, art critic, and a founding member of pioneering artist groups such as Group Ongaku and Fluxus. Along with other Japanese artists such as KOSUGI Takehisa, KUBOTA Shigeko and IIMURA Takahiko, he practiced internationally and introduced Eastern philosophy, aesthetics, and an inventive spirit to the world. His unique approach to art and technology, which explores the “unexpected,” continues to have a profound influence on young artists. (Christophe CHARLES)