Mediamatic Magazine vol 5#1+2 Volker Grassmuck 1 Jan 1990

Art x technology

Interview with prof. Asada Akira conducted on November 12,1989 in the Akasaka Prince Hotel, Tokyo. Asada Aldra is a student of Sawa Takamitsu, economist and philosopher at Kyoto University. He studied in France and is lecturing in economics at his alma mater. He is an important promotor of contemporary French theory in Japan.


art x technology -

Grassmuck: Media are changing art. Literature has changed with the printing press. Film has changed the visual arts and produ ced new forms of art. In computer graphics (cg), the electronic media seem, above ad, to be speaking about themselves. These are the first timid steps onto new territory. What powers do they add to the artistic means of expression, to the possibilities of artistic comment on the world?

Asada: I think that at the present point of time the real interface, the real interaction between art and technology still has to come. In general the arts exploit technology or technology exploits the artists to present its own skills, but there is no real interaction. Up to now it is still a rather superficial relationship as far as I can see.

What new powers do the new technologies provide artists with basically!' Well, attempts are being made on a theoretical basis to criticise the system of representation, the way of presenting things from the focal point of the subjective eye. And this representation system on the basis of the dichotomy of subject and object and under the hegemony of the observing eye of the subject, is based principally on optical technology. And if, for example, you think of the situation in Holland in the 17th century, there were artists such as Vermeer, but at the same time Van Leeuwenhoek and Christiaan Huyghens, who laid the foundations for optics. Even Spinoza built a camera using lenses. There was a very close relationship between people involved in art and optics and lens- grinding. And I believe it was due to this constellation of art, technology and philosophy that the paintings of Vermeer, which nowadays appear to be so poetical and artistic, were produced. This is the form of interaction which I expect from modern technology.

However, we haven’t yet reached this point. But potentially there has to be a great change. With regard to optics and these perspective spheres, the camera in the igth century reproduced and reinforced the paradigm of the camera obscura of the 17th century. Of course there is a great difference, the problem of reproductibility. But even so, with regard to the system of representation - one represents something from ones own subjective, perspective point - these two cameras belong to the same paradigm.

And then came the cg, for example. The cg does not represent something preceding the system. I think that the, lets say, 'vulgar' form of cg, does nothing more than reproducing the same story. There are a few prefabricated pictures which have to be represented in some fashion on the computer screen. But in principle a real model does not exist, the model which can be reproduced in an optical chemical process. There is only the data flow, digital data stored in a data bank. And besides that, the programmes written in a digital language - that’s all. And of course the pictures are simulacra, but simulacra without origin, without concrete model. Which means, the subject, for its part, has lost its privileged position. The entire system of this dichotomy and the perspective standardization now loses its meaning. That’s why there is the potential for a big change, but, as far as I can see, there are no real reflections being made on this in the arts and the philosophy of art. That is the great problem for me.

I've noticed thatfractalisation in electronic art is becoming very evident. When man is portrayed instead of a machinebeing, it is almost the rule that his face is cut up and fitted together anew. The same happens to his voice or his body which perhaps becomes a musical instrument. And that doesn't only take place in post-modern thinking but in installations which can be grasped even by children. This is found only in the rarest of cases in the texts of artists. Is it possible to speak of a division of work: French philosophers as thinkers and computer artists as pragmatists of the multi- media society ?

Yes, that’s right, even without recognising the real depth of the change. That is the problem. A real interface, a real interaction is now necessary.

But with regard to fractalisation, I believe it is possible to observe these three phases: in the 17th century, for example, one observed only one's own picture in the mirror. That is therefore a dual relationship. If one raises one's right hand, the picture raises its left one. It is therefore like the north and south pole, you see. It is very dual. And in this dual interaction the subject is formed. That is the famous story with the reflexion etc. It was the locus of dialectics between you and yourself. It was a dialogue with its polar structure.

But then the age of photography arrived. If you look at a photograph, there is no real duality in this sense. The actual surface is rigid, it is a freeze-dried picture of the surface. The surface has not yet been fractalised, but in some way its own identity is rigid and cold. And besides, this picture can be reproduced an infinite number of times. One’s own identity is suspended and reproduced in an endless series. There is no room, almost no room for dialectics between oneself and one’s picture. In the age of the mirror there could be, for instance, a self- portrait of Rembrandt. That is the result of a long, accumulative process of dialectics between you and yourself, forming your own identity. But in the age of photography, it is only possible to have series, let's say Warhol-like series of one's own respective pictures which repeat themselves indefinitely without dialectic, how shall I put it, ‘enhancement’.

But then came the age of the electronic pictures. Here even the rigid pictures of oneself, if perhaps not exactly deconstructed, are somehow diffused and - in a certain sense - resolved into fractal pictures which hover in the electronic network. That is the real, basic change which is now taking place. And as you said, it is my impression that artists are not really aware of this change of the paradigm. They are somehow repeating the mirror paradigm or, in some cases, the Warhol-like simulation. That is the status quo, as I see it.

We have always lived in a world of media, at least in this century. But up to now we have had to go to the kiosk to buy a newspaper, we have had to go to the tv to switch it on. But with new apparatus, with intelligent buildings, with TRON, for example, we are completely surrounded by them, encircled, mostly without being aware of it. The media are moving in on us. Do you see this as a qualitative step or is it just more of the same thing? Does it maybe mean the individualising of the media, away from the mass medium?

Yes, I believe that’s where there is a basic change. In the extreme, one can imagine a situation in which the media terminal is incorporated into one’s own body e.g. into the retina or even into the brain. An artist called Harada has created a Media Suit, as he calls it. It is an old piece of work, perhaps 5 or 6 years old and therefore fairly primitive. It is a sort of helmet on which there is a camera. It is possible to see the outside world via screen and camera, but only through this information circle, and you can connect computer games or cg directly to this screen straight in front of your eyes. In the extreme, it is even possible to incorporate these pictures, to project them directly onto the retina etc. In this situation - that is a kind of paradox - the media become, so-to-speak, ‘immedia’. It is no longer something which imparts objective reality and one's own inner imagination. It is the immediate point of cutting the simulated pictures or those pictures which the camera has captured and one’s own inner imagination. You could say it is a short-circuit of reality and so-called imagination. There are, therefore, indeed basic changes. And of course there is a social danger in this situation, because the mass media now enjoy such a powerful hegemony. And even so, it is still possible to isolate oneself nowadays from the media by a distance of, let’s say, three metres from the television screen. But this distance is now being reduced.

I believe that, with regard to this incorporation, it is not art which is avant-garde but military or medical research. In the military sector there is the problem of, for instance, how to structure the cockpit of a fighter plane. If you have to look out and at the same time read the indicators inside, this causes great inefficiency. That’s why headup- displays are designed with holographic presentations of the speedometer etc. superimposed on the view to the outside. And in an extreme case these pictures are projected onto the helmet visor etc. etc. It is my impression that the world avant- garde was taken over from the military sector into the field of politics and art around 1845. But nowadays the real avant-garde has returned to the military sector or even to medicine, in which sector experiments are now being carried out with a sort of projection of pictures onto the body surface of blind people. Especially in these sectors the distance between the media terminals and oneself is now being reduced at a rapid speed, perhaps not to zero but at least to a simulated immediacy. That is almost a contradiction in itself as the media play a mediatory role. The paradigm of communication between two separate subjects seems to me to have been replaced by a kind of co-mutation, to use the term of a French theoretician... oh, I’ve forgotten his name, but two things mutate at the same time. There is therefore no longer the transmitter, the message and the receiver. The transmitter and the receiver are now joined together at the same time and immediately. This is a very interesting and, at the same time, very worrying situation, but 1 see it as the actual potential for the great change. It is therefore not only quantitative but also qualitative.

I should like to go back to the military aspect. It can often he observed that the entertainment electronics we can buy in the shops originate in military developments, in technology which has been produced for military needs and requirements. I have often wondered if traces of military logic could be found in household mass media.

That is a very difficult question. But, for example, the wish to be able to see everything at the same time, the wish for the omnipresent eye which misses nothing, which no-one can escape, can be traced back to its military origin. I am not really sure, but nowadays war is not one of real fighting power. It is first and foremost a war of information- gathering technology. As can be seen in spy satellites. It is therefore not a war of explosive force, but first and foremost one of pictures in many respects. How can information be gained, how can one see the opponents territory and, at the same time, how can one influence one’s own people by means of manipulating pictures. This entire paradigm comes from military research, perhaps not entirely but considerable parts of it. I’m not absolutely sure, but that is my impression.

So when artists use these technologies, are they not only affirming something which has been developed for reprehensible purposes, something which has been set before them and which they then use for aesthetic purposes?

That depends. I happen to be a friend of a German artist, Ingo Giinther, who uses satellite technology, in particular the kind of spy satellites and manipulates them for his own purposes. I consider that to be very interesting. For example, in 1987 at the Documenta 8 in Kassel, he presented ch, Communication, Control, Command and Intelligence using satellite pictures. And it was a very impressive piece of work. In a dark room there was a marble table onto which pictures were projected from the ceiling. The pictures were satellite pictures of strategically important regions such as Nicaragua or Afghanistan. These pictures quivered on the marble surface which itself gave a geographical impression. And you looked down onto these pictures as if you yourself were a general at the command post of Star Wars. And with one movement of the hand you could wipe out a country. It contained a very ironical awareness of the present-day condition humaine which participates in these military networks of observation and control.

And on the other hand, he perforates/breaks through this c3i, which is military jargon, as c4 i.e. Communication, Command, Control and Corruption. It is a corruption for the artist. He is aware of the position of the artist who is involved with such systems, as one of possible corruption. Because there is always the wish to see everything, to control everything, that could have its origin in military logic. In such works I can at least recognize a critical awareness of the situation which you have described. In 90% of the cases the artists are not aware of this. Perhaps they are playing with very dangerous toys without noticing the possible implications of these technologies. And yet one can fully exploit these technologies with a very critical awareness. And Giinther's works are aesthetically very, very appealing. And he knows it is a very dangerous fascination. In this context, and this is of course only an example, I can see the potential for a new kind of artistic work which is really serious in a social, political and military context. And at the same time aesthetically very, very ... attractive I must admit.

Oswald Wiener described media operators as the most important pursuers of neo-nihilism. This is neither the melancholic nihilism of the lgth century in Germany nor the ‘substantial’ nihilism in traditional Japanese thought as, for instance, Daisetzu Suzuki expresses it in his foreword to Nishida's Intelligibility and Nothingness:"The West intellectually assumes a dualistic world, whereas the East has both feet firmly on the ground of the void which is a world of concrete existentialism and not a logical framework of abstraction.”

I see a kind of ambiguity in this because as Nishida spoke about the place of nothingness, it was a very radical affirmation of the bottomlessness or, you could say of the ‘imperturbability’ of man. But at the same time this place of nothingness lent itself to being fetishised as a place in which one can play infinitely without human, historical meaning. With regard to the Japanese tradition of thought, the ambiguity of - well, 'real nothingness’ is a contradiction in itself - but the deep insight into the abyss on the one hand and the fetishising of the pictures of the empty field which can envelop everything, in which one can play infinitely, on the other, is nearly always a central problem. And with regard to modem media and media art, I must admit that it is the latter which applies.

I can remember what Alexander Kojève said in his lecture on his Hegel interpretation in the thirties. He was a very interesting man. He gave this lecture on Hegelian philosophy in Paris. And he influenced not only Raymond Aron, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty but also Lacan, Bataille, Klossowski, simply everyone who later went to make up the so- called French theory of the post-war age. He was a kind of source which came from Germany, of course. He had emigrated from Russia, via Germany to Paris. In this lecture he said history is a history of struggles. When the struggles are over, history ends. And man steps into the post- historical state. Following the Second World War, he believes that the struggle is over, the long series of battles beginning with the Napoleonic War and ending with the Second World War had in a way brought about the universalising of Western democracy which presents the final form of human government, according to him. After that he gave up philosophy and became a sort of bureaucrat dealing with economic regulation. After philosophy, only this kind of regulation or control posed a problem. And he travelled a great deal, first he saw the United States as being the first candidate for the post-historical state of man, and that was, to use his words, American animality. Man, who was released from the historical struggle with ideologies and power, can become an animal again, sunning himself, lying on the beach, listening to the bizarre, stupid music from the radio, drinking Coca Cola and eating sandwiches etc. etc. That is the first version of the post-historical state.

But as he came to Japan after 1959, he found the second candidate of the post-historical model of human life which he called Japanese snobbery, snobism japonais. It is not really snobbery, but a kind of snobbishness A snob is someone who e.g. goes to the opera not because he understands operas and likes them, but who goes there because of pure appearance, because of the impression of being someone who can appreciate the opera as a high form of art i.e. doing something without relating it to its own historical, human content. The repetition of pure form which is empty and which is all the more refined and sophisticated because it is empty. That is snobbery in the sense of Kojève. And he saw this in Japan because, according to Kojève, war, fighting had been suspended in Japan as early as around 1600, at the end of the feudal war. And in the Edo-age, war was completely suspended for more than two and a half centuries, and one could infinitely repeat the empty form of the tea-drinking ceremony, flower arrangement and even suicide became a ritual for the purpose of pure emulation, pure appearance. It is pure nihilism, the repetition of empty forms as such in a continually more sophisticated manner.

In any case, post-historism is very, very boring for Kojève. Everything that we have to do consists of very simple basic economic rules and snobbish play of empty significants. That’s why it becomes very boring. But he believed that Japanese snobbery was less boring than American animality. That is the European point of view. He believed that the Japanisation of the world would come - at the end of the 50s. That was indeed a very radical viewpoint. But in one sense the world is not the world which is being Japanised. With regard to the French theory, for instance, for Roland Barthes the game of empty significants in Japan devoid of any content was made possible by the empty centre, the emperors palace in Tokyo. That is the repetition of Kojèveian snobbery. Or if you consider Jean Beaudrillard’s theory of the simulacra without models, he too repeats the Kojèveian myth of Japan as the pure place of nihilism. Therefore: yes, there is a strong nihilistic tendency in the media and among people controlling the media and the simulacra.

I wonder if this repetitive empty form still dominates nowadays or if there is a media layer covering it which has a related form - which is not quite the same but similar. There is the empty centre of the computer and worlds are built on this nothingnesss. And the computer also creates this repetitive movement, the variations in music or cg. Does the connection between this media layer and the layer of traditional nihilism in japan still exist?

Yes, I believe it does, even if people are not aware of this. I believe that, although there seems to be a great distance between these layers, the basic structure penetrates all layers. That is my impression. I am not completely sure if the deep insight into the nothingness has an influence on the operating of the media or media art, but with regard to this flower-arrangement-like nihilism, there is obviously a close connection between these traditional attitudes and present-day phenomena. That is my opinion.

Many children were present at an exhibition on interactive art, which I visited recently. It could easily be seen that this nihilism from the machine is not a theoretical construct, not a particularly sophisticated way of practising cultural forms, but something which has become so material and obvious that even children can intuitively grasp it.
In this context too I have an ambivalent feeling. Yes, 90% of the works are fairly childish. They are just as unlikely to be classified as works as art than as children's toys, very brightly-coloured, popular and attractive and that’s all. Yet there is a potential for really serious works if you consider the basic requirements. I am both pessimistic and optimistic as far as that goes. But I must admit that high technology is certainly accompanied by a kind of infantilisation. We can of course talk about modern and post-modern technology. But let’s say that if you wanted to take photos 20 years ago, you had to understand the mechanism. But nowadays everything is automatic, you only have to press the knob and the machine does everything for you. 20, 30 years ago the machines were not really black boxes. They were grey, and you could look into them, and sometimes you had to repair them.
Sometimes it was necessary to adapt one’s own intentions to the restrictions of the machine. But nowadays the machines become gigantic black boxes on which you are almost completely dependent. You press the button and along comes the result. You don't have to understand the mechanism, neither is it possible to do so. If, for example, a camera breaks, you take it to the shop, but even the technician can’t repair it. He merely takes out the electronics and replaces it. That is the black box phenomenon.

With the non-perfect grey box technology, people learnt something about the process, just as Marx thought, they got to know nature via ' mediating mechanics. But due to the fact that machines are now so perfect, the chance of learning something has got lost. We can rely on the machines without really knowing how they work. Perhaps technicians still know, but, for instance, people who design the cameras know a certain structure, but inside that there is again a black box, and only ic and lsic engineers deal with that. And I believe that science fiction covers this kind of thing quite intuitively and e.g. in 1945 -1 mean Orwell's 1984 - in the dystopia of 1948 which is 84, the city was controlled by Big Brother, a paternalistic figure demanding from people that they give up their needs in order to work and to discipline. But in today’s sf, the central figure is nearly always maternal, the central computer is nearly always called ‘Mother’, a mother-computer controlling a mother-ship or a mother-city. Of course there is an etymological relationship between mother- computer and terminals. However I see in this a subtle connotation. The mother is not like Big Brother. She watches over her children. But she embraces her children, and as soon as they complain about something, she is there to share out the sweets. The children can rely entirely upon her.

This is connected with infantilising, a kind of electronic cradle. Yes, even the electronic mother’s lap of the mother computer. That is, of course, an exaggeration of the real situation which is intuitively covered e.g. by SF-authors. That is one side. I spoke about the camera. You can however also take Tv-games. The computer becomes a very patient mother. In reality the mother is busy preparing meals etc. and therefore cannot be attending to her children 24 hours a day. She has to go away. That's why the children must learn to do things independently. But nowadays computers become a mother who is so patient that she can look after them for 24 hours. The incessant flow of brightly-coloured pictures with which the children can play is the ideal of the computer games. And I have seen in computer games a psycho-analytically very archaic form of figurativeness. And the story is nearly always mythical. You have to overcome many dangers to save a princess. That is not a novel but a romance, a mythical story, almost an Odyssey. Some see a contradiction in this - high technology together with very archaic mythology. But I think it is compatible because present-day technology has become a mother who is very forbearing and gentle towards her children. Of course I am exaggerating, and it is only a small symptom, but if you extract this symptom, you can recognise this kind of playful and pleasant dystopia in which you have even lost your awareness of being enclosed in it. That is the dangerous aspect which I foresee in this kind of infantilising which technology drives forward. In this sense I am therefore pessimistic.

It is very interesting that you bring mythological structures to the fore, his my impression that in many places in which people from literature or philosophy think about the media situation, divinities and spirits and ghosts reappear. That would therefore be a kind of new animism. Could it he that we have assumed an animism with a multitude of frightening divinities and spirits with which we have to come to terms; that humanity then went through a phase of rationality in which the subject concentrated on himself all forms of reasonable interaction with nature, with natural forces which can be explained rationally; and now in the end spirits are rising again, not from outside but from the man-made structure of technology and the media themselves: i.e. an animation, not in the technical sense of the word, hut as a man-made form of animism? Yes, that is my impression, too.

For instance, in William Gibson's Cyberspace, all such possible spirits appear. Yes, and it is not the Catholic or Protestant form of God but e.g. voodoo. It is very primitive because it is hi-tech. Yes, maybe you are right. I myself believe that there is a kind of circular short circuit between hi-tech and a frequently very primitive form of animism. The system is so omnipresent, so complicated, so gigantic, that it is almost inevitably reificated as ubiquitous divinity, if not as God. I do not believe that modern criticism has lost its subject-matter. Perhaps it is no longer possible to speak of the liberation of man ‘as a genus’. But it is possible to criticise this kind of reification and re-mystification of the system to something similar to a galactic mothers lap or a divinity. And that is precisely the task of the artist, as I see it. The real artists cannot play with these pictures. They can play with it, but at the same time they criticise it from inside. It is all right to let oneself be captivated by the possibilities. And at the same time one need not and should not give up one’s awareness. This is a very difficult double standard, but without this a work of art loses its status as art and is transformed into a toy or a ritual instrument. I see the strong tendency, maybe not of becoming reactionary, but of returning to the myth via hi-tech. That is precisely the condition which makes the really serious, critical, artistic work in- dispensible nowadays. That is the reason why I said that I am at the same time both pessimistic and optimistic.

The standpoint of criticism is, of course, very difficult to grasp. Art always provides comments on the situation of man in his environment, on the problems with which he is confronted. For instance, as a reaction to environmental problems there is environmental art and even ecological art.

It is more difficult with the relationship between man and the technical environment because there is not the 'original' state of man which he has left. Where could criteria for criticism or merely for this irony come from?

Well, as I said, I am not sure where the absolute basis of criticism lies. But there is one thing, that the vision of organic totality is always suspicious. The vision of an ecologically harmonious system is always deceptive to a certain degree. And if you leave aside the theory, the artist can feel mistrust towards this way of looking at the situation.

Perhaps it is an intuitive feeling of discrepancy or break or split etc. And sometimes they are wrong. I believe this intuitive repulsion of organic totality, of this vision and this picture of organic totality could be a starting point from which the artist can at least distance himself, if not criticise, from the myth of the electronic mother’s lap. I believe ecology is a very important matter. And a movement like the Greens has its own significance. But agriculture is, on the other hand, a form of ecological distortion, a very big one. Instead of the forest with its multitude of plants, you have a very homogeneous field. To bring in another point of view, this kind of mistrust towards organic totality is a feeling for history. The organic totality is looked upon as something natural, something preceding everything, preceding human intervention, but something which is living, because nature is often the result of preceding technology e.g. of agriculture. The Japanese always think of nature.

But nature which they have made e.g. in the last century, the rice fields, the forests etc. If you mistrust organic totality and criticise it, you must speak about history. Nature is historical. I believe that is very important.

And with regard to art and semiotics, this differentiation is perhaps one of symbol and allegory as e.g. is characterised by Walter Benjamin. Symbol is a sign which symbolises and is symbolised. It is a natural sign which is vivanl et vécu. It is myth and symbolic cosmology, symbolic totality. A symbolic organism is almost always a kind of illusion. In the face of this, Benjamin paradoxically praises allegory. Because allegory is a dead sign. And in allegory the designated and the designating are arbitrarily connected via convention. And convention is always historical e.g. the Old Testament was seen as an allegory of the New Testament. The Exodus as the allegory of the dead Christ who is resurrected. But that is an artificial and imposed interpretation. And as such, very arbitrary and secondary and parasitic, seen from the symbolic point of view. But as multilayered ruins of the dead signs, allegory can, according to Benjamin, speak about history. History as ruin. I believe this kind of historical awareness is necessary, also in the field of technology. In the field of technology one tends to speak almost exclusively of harmonious totality which can be achieved by new technology, the new vision. And it is almost always illusory. I cannot distinguish between technological symbol and technological allegory, but yet these subtle differences can exist in the attitude of an artist. But it is very subtle and a pre-determined difference cannot be detected. But I believe that is decisive.

In the West the remains of subject philosophy can still be lost. Thinkersfeel threatened by computers and, in particular, by artistic intelligence. In Japan this fear of loss does not exist. Are the Japanese better prepared for what is to comet(1).

Well... Perhaps Japan is too well prepared, in the negative sense, by the superficial repetition of empty signs e.g. so that it can adapt to the surface of new technology. But with regard to the far-reaching change which I have hinted at, I am not so optimistic. Let's say, they adapt too easily to new technology to see the real contradictions, the real, subtle decollage between man and technology. In no way do I support subject philosophy in its classical form and the criticism referring to this, and yet the awareness of this gap, of this almost unalterable distance, could be a starting point for developing something really serious. As far as Japan is concerned, I am very divided though. But yes, sometimes I think the interesting cases could be made... After all, I can say of this kind of differences of cultures ... I believe works can be made in Japan which can be taken seriously, and in Germany and in France e.g. high technology is advancing at a most amazing speed. Perhaps the difference is not as great as one imagines.

Don't you think that with the One World which is advancing upon us, the globalising of the traffic of goods, people and information, that the cultural differences are the only thing which can save us from homogenisation1 And if this path leads to disaster, of whatever kind at all, it doesn't have to be a world war, which at the moment again seems less probable, would diversification be the only chance for there not to be a global disaster.

Yes, I do believe that the differences of the cultures are one of the most important resources which we have and which are now on the brink of homogenisation. But I think that if you talk about the differences of cultures, you have to be careful with the definition of culture. What is cultural identity? Is it the cultural identity of Asia, Japan, Tokyo etc.? Even within Japan there are many traditions of which some are incompatible, some come from Korea, from Taiwan etc. Of course, it is important to preserve these cultural differences and to develop them further, but I do not believe in a global definition of cultural identity. I do not mean global, - the general definition of cultural identity of Japan or Asia. After having said that, yes, the cultural differences are fairly important.

Recently I met an artist, Miajima, who is making a circle or a triangle out of meters. It is a line made of numbers of which some tick over very, very quickly. And he has produced a form from this in a dark room in which there are hundreds of small, red numbers which tick over at a very fast speed. Even that is again an allegory of, let's say, the star wars control room. But at the same time it resembles a meditation room of Zen-Buddhism or of the tea-drinking ceremony in its most essential form. I experienced it as being very Japanese. Not in the negative sense, but in a positive sense. If not Japanese, then very Oriental. This kind of difference could be reflected in works of art, in the models of the media. And that could be a potential for really new works. On the one hand we have a very vulgar form of Japanisation, a vulgar form of snobbery e.g. the popular programmes on television are very, very Japanese because, even the advertising films have to be nonsensical, it has to be a parody of oneself. That is why it approaches the empty game of significants. In a certain sense it is very Japanese, very snobbish, to use Kojève's word. But at the same time, serious works can be made with a fundamental Japanese or Oriental or Zen-like insight. Yes, in this tendency I see a hopefully productive way of presenting technology hand in hand with the culture of difference.