The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 29.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Kawaguchi's unimaginative images are disappointing


Images by Yoichiro Kawaguchi.

Music by Tod Machover.

The Cube, August 2.


IF TOD MACHOVER WISHES TO ADVANCE his well-earned reputation as an innovator in electronic music further, he will find people of greater talent than Yoichiro Kawaguchi with whom to collaborate in the future.

Last Wednesday's performance in the Cube, with images by Kawaguchi and music by Machover, began with a piece called Milky. Kawaguchi's images here were relaxing in a hallucinatory sort of way, if rather lacking in imagination. But with Morphogenesis, the show turned to the grotesque, with large ugly objects and swirling tentacles coming and going across the screen as if we were witnessing early Monty Python graphics on a bad day.

Kawaguchi's images are sometimes brash and psychedelic, but seem to come out of the 1960s and have little that is either fresh or new to offer. Aquatic themes predominate in his work, but the marine life flows across the screen with an artificially programmed facility which suggests nothing of real life. It became clear before the first part of the show ended that Kawaguchi has few ideas, and that they are all rooted in displaying technical virtuosity rather than developing artistic content.

The major item on the program was the world premiere of Flora, a collaboration between Machover and Kawaguchi. This piece is supposed to connect together the organic and the artificial, and a computer processed human voice plays a central role. Machover used the voice in dramatic ways, transforming and shaping its sound to produce a variety of quite compelling effects. The screen unfortunately offered little more than a display of more grotesquely undulating surfaces and Pythonesque writhing shapes, the product of a computer hacker immersed in the cleverness of his machinery and blind to the wonders of the real world. The inventiveness of Machover's score deserved something much better.