Yoshi Sodeoka is a visual artist based in New York City specializing in phsychedelic, experimental art. His talents are applied to not only physical installations, but throughout his career, Yoshi has directed music videos and created editorial illustrations for various publications.
What first got you into digital art?
I enrolled in Pratt Institute in the 90’s, just around the time of beginning of computer graphics revolution. I used to study painting before my college years and was thinking of continuing at Pratt. But, I was introduced to Macs and Silicon Graphics at the school. Since then, I haven’t looked back.
How do you transform images and video into these colorful masterpieces?
I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s an experiment each time. I don’t have any specific plan when I start my project. I only have a vague one. Once I start working on it, new ideas starts to flow in each step that I am in. Most of the time, I don’t even know how I got to the result of it.
With your videos with people like J Lazer and Oliver Coates, are you brought in early on to the process to collaborate or do they just hand you footage and let you do what you do?
It’s different each time. Sometime, musicians have some vague idea, and I tried to follow. But, most of the time, it’s all up to me. They let me do whatever I want, which I feel very lucky about. They come to me because they’ve seen my past work. So, I guess they just trust me enough to give me freedom.
A lot of your commissioned work has been featured on magazines and publications discussing technology and its future. Do you think your art is an accurate depiction of our future in the digital age?
I’m not sure. I grew up with both digital culture and analog culture. When I was very little, I grew up with analog TVs, radios and vinyls. But I’m not that old to spend my entire teenage years without digital culture. It was just starting out at the time. So, my adolescent was in a transition period. That’s why I don’t really make any distinction between digital and analog maybe. I just don’t think about it. In my mind, digital and analog cultures coexist seamlessly. So, I think that that is probably the reason why my style works for traditional publications such as New York Times etc, I think that my artworks have a fusion of both digital and analog aesthetics. I usually don’t like my work to look too technologically cold. I always like having a feel of human touch in my work even though those are all created digitally. It’s always good to have a little bit of both.
How did the idea come about for your Clamor series?
I’ve been collaborating with a Brazilian musician Bruno Sres, aka MYMK, for a while. His music is really inspiring to my visual art. I’ve been developing a new animation technique which is an odd mix of digital and analog video feedback. He shared with me some of his new music he’s been working on. Those were all abstract and had no traditional music structure, and it felt perfect for my new visual ideas. So, I decided to make videos for his entire album that consists of 11 songs. It was a lot to produce. But the process was so smooth, and it didn’t take long. Some projects are like that, and I love it when that happens.
In all the 25 years you’ve been doing this, What do you think has been the biggest change for either yourself or the digital art space as a whole?
I am not a big fan of the term digital art. A lot of things have gone digital in the past 30, 40 years or so. The art scene is the only thing that still brags about their art being digital. I feel funny about that. A lot of the time, I find it difficult to make people not focus on the techniques or what software that was created in. I just want to keep challenging people to focus on the content and message behind it. My technique might be digital, but my brain is still pretty much analog based. What I do with the new technology is more important than how I created it.
Any advice for upcoming artists?
Just keep on at it. If you do what you love long enough without giving up, something good will happen.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming work you’d like for us to know about?
I’m not sure how much of I can talk about it. But, I’ll be working with a really talented experimental turntable musician who is based in London, and I will be creating a visual environment for her live performances which is planned for later this year. I’m really excited about that.