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Motomichi Nakamura

May 22 – June 30 2019

Public Viewing Hours:
Fridays 6–8pm
Saturdays 1–5pm
Sundays 1–5pm

“When the Night Falls”, an animated film by Japanese artist Motomichi Nakamura takes place in the far future of Chicago where the city is taken over by residents-turned-humanoid bunnies and other mysterious creatures. Once night falls, giant city guardians are awakened and start walking around the streets while flying sea serpents come out of the lake and roam over the sky of Chicago.

Interview with Motomichi Nakamura

You’ve been working with these animated monster-like characters for a long time, can you tell us their origins/backstories and how you developed them throughout the years?

I have always been fascinated by mythical monsters and creatures since I was little. I believe that monsters are visualized representations of our inexplicable fear and anxiety which I like to explore in my work. Monsters don’t belong to any social group or religion and they are outsiders in society and can be misunderstood and lonely.

What fascinates me most about monsters are eyewitness accounts of encounters that describe how the monsters looked and how they felt. A lot of my monsters are created based on stories I read and I continue to develop them over the years.

The movement of the characters are so fluent, lively and playful. Can you also elaborate on your animation process?

I start off by making frame by frame drawing of the movements. Sometimes I record myself doing certain movements when I can't find references. I trace them in animation programs such as After Effects and Adobe Anime but I divide the characters' bodies into moveable parts so that I can use motion tween to control the timing and movement of each part of the body freely.

The characters and stories of your animation always existed in complicated architectural space (mostly via techniques of projection mapping), what are the challenges and intriguing aspects of working in this style with the unique structure of the 150 Media Stream?

When I started sketching out ideas I realized that working with the unique structure of the 150 Media Stream screen was a challenge but also it created interesting effects. I liked the effects of large elements moving across the screen with vertical strips and gaps in between them. It reminds me of the strobe effect or seeing fast trains passing by right in front of you. The first time I saw the picture of the space I was also very impressed by the fact that the screen is placed in front of the glass windows through which you can see the exterior environment. I wanted to make images that blend into the interior space and the outside (especially at night) and that's the reason I decided to use mainly black for the background.

Your work has been shown in art venues such as museums and galleries, as well as installed in public spaces such as outdoor murals and neighborhood buildings’ façades, what are your expectations of how the audience (public and tenants) for the 150 Media Stream will respond to the project? How does this context affect your approach of the project?

I hope people enjoy watching the animated story unfold regardless of where they are and what they do in the lobby space. Hence in the scenes of the futuristic night cityscape of Chicago there are many close-up details of the animated building elements and its residents (bunnies), which may require people to come close to the screen to watch. In the other scenes there are large flying serpents and giant sleeping monsters roaming across the entire screen, which would look very powerful when people stand farther away from the installation.

Learn more about Motomichi Nakamura here

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Chicago Design Archive

150 Media Stream website:
design by the narrative
photography by michael salisbury