Glitch Me a Good Time

Takeshi Murata is an American born datamosh artist who is known best for his psychedelic animated videos. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Murata has pioneered glitch art in film, video, and animation. Murata was raised by two architects, and he credits this for increasing his awareness of the spaces that surround him. Moreover, Murata cites his surroundings as a great influence on his work. Currently based in New York, Murata has found this new environment very influential in his work. Murata also likes to explore the “veneer” of technology. He is fascinated by corporations’ use of CGI and editing to make their products look better. Murata likes to put the same level of attention into his art that deals with subjects one might consider less glamorous like a thrown-away McDonald’s cup.

Murata’s preferred tools are ZBrush for sculpting and Cinema 4D for rigging the character. He also uses CGI technology to give his works the illusion of three-dimensionality. Surprisingly, Murata does all of his work by himself. This work, especially rigging characters, can be tedious. However, Murata prefers to be hands-on with the tools so that he can understand what they’re capable of doing and how far he can push them.

Murata’s work has been exhibited at a variety of museums including the New Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Additionally, Murata has multiple works in permanent collections at museums such as the Hirshhorn and Smithsonian American Art. He has also collaborated with notable artist Robert Beatty for over 10 years.

The first work of Murata’s I would like to look at is his 2006, “Pink Dot.” This

single-channel video used footage from the 1982 movie, “Rambo: First Blood.” The film dips into and out of unknown coarse pixel distortions of specific Rambo scenes. I personally think the beauty of the work lies in its completely abstract pixel movements. There was also a three-dimensional element to the work I liked as the pixel blocks felt like they were escaping the screen. This work drew me in and I credit that to the pulsing pink dot at the center of the screen. “Pink Dot” completely captured my attention as I was engrossed by the animation and glitch effects.

The second work I will be discussing is Murata’s 2005 work, “Monster Movie.” An interesting aspect of this work is that it is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Made from clips of the 1981 B-movie Caveman, “Monster Movie” showcases datamoshing and its ability to turn video into a digital liquid. Murata punched virtual holes in the compressed video file to disrupt the video′s logic and reveal the “monster” inside the digital script. This work was creatively attractive to me because Murata used his glitch effects to act as transitions between scenes. For example, the man appearing out of the water, through multiple iterations of glitch, turns into a fountain spouting color into the next scene. I also really liked the sound design of this work. Specifically, I liked how the background music was jazzy with a creepy leaf blower like noise in the background.

The last work I want to look at is his 2013 piece, “OM Rider.” This video, which was selected to screen as an animated short film at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, follows two animated characters who traverse a dark landscape and perform seemingly pointless tasks. I was able to only find a scene from this work, but I think that the scene demonstrates how much of a break from Murata’s usual this was. This animation showcases Murata’s absurd humor and aesthetic in his cleverly crafted narrative arc. This work is clearly a symbol of the new direction Murata is exploring. The minimalist animation works coupled with Robert Beatty’s sound design really made me feel excitedly scared as the action seemed to really be unfolding before my eyes. Murata’s old style is still visible in his use of transitions and shots. This mix of old and new style in “OM Rider” really caught my eye as it blends the best of Murata’s datamoshing and animation skills.  

All in all, Takeshi Murata interests me as an artist because of his use of glitch and new work in animation.


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