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Introducing Daito Manabe – Interview during residency at Jodrell Bank

Tue 04 Jul 2017

by Edwina McEachran

During his residency at Jodrell Bank Observatory we sat down with artist and programmer Daito Manabe and asked him a few questions about his upcoming COSMOS commission, Celestial Frequencies, and what it was like collaborating with physicists…

You have a very varied background in mathematics, programming and music, can you tell us how your work began – working as an artist and your creative interests?

I majored in mathematics in college, but was also a DJ and had a band. My work now is an extension of my interests back then.

Can you tell us more about Rhizomatiks Research, the team that you work with, and the sort of work that you create together?

We now have 40 people working with us here at Rhizomatiks, but our Research Division has around 16 or 17 staff members. Rather than picking up commissioned projects, Rhizomatiks Research conducts our own independent R&D.

What is the most exciting thing about this COSMOS commission?

Like everyone, I’m very interested in data concerning the universe. I really enjoyed this opportunity to work with such esteemed scientists, and to create a piece showcasing their incredible data.

What has been the biggest challenge?

While most of the data itself was very easy to incorporate, the project could truly have gone in any number of directions. Narrowing down this vast field of possibilities was a challenge.

You spent some time earlier this year at Jodrell Bank working with the SJ Physicists, what did you learn and how do you think it will be used in the commission?

For example, we discussed how to receive pulsar data in real-time, how to convert observation data obtained from the telescope and how to use the vast amount of extant data in an engaging way. We’re also looking beyond the raw data alone and thinking about humanity’s conception of the constellations in order to incorporate these ancient fictional narratives, as well.

Can you tell us any more about your plans for using astronomical data in this project?

I want to seamlessly integrate both the real-time and extant data. Since we have been given access to where the actual data is collected, I want to convey that the data is actually being received on-site and that this data is cascading down from the heavens.

Your work is often very technically innovative, who or what inspires or influences your work?

There are too many to name. I’m always inspired by collaborators on projects. This time, especially, I was inspired by Tim, Patrick, Rene, and all the wonderful scientists on the team.

Celestial Frequencies / COSMOS 2017
7 – 9 July 2017
Bluedot Festival / 11pm – 3am
Jodrell Bank Observatory, Macclesfield, Cheshire (UK)