―The Institute of Advanced Media Arts (IAMAS) is known as a graduate school that produces many media artists. Why did you choose IAMAS after Tokyo College of Music?
Artist Workbook #2
Artists’ Survival MethodsNo.013
In 2019, Taro Yasuno was selected to represent Japan at the Venice Biennale along with several other artists to participate in the exhibition. His representative work is Zombie Music. We asked him about his journey from college graduation to becoming an artist.
From music school graduation to the media art holy land
A big factor was that composer Masahiro Miwa was at IAMAS. As a student, I had the opportunity to hear a lecture by Prof. Miwa, which was very stimulating and opened up a new perspective for me.
Taro Yasuno. In his office at Aichi University of the Arts
Photo: Tomohiko Sugino
What is Zombie Music?
—How did it get started?
I am the kind of person who just makes music on my own without anyone asking me to. But even if I compose something on my own, there’s no one to play it. That’s when I came across instruments that play automatically, and I thought, “If there is no one to play it, then I'll make one of these myself”. The music that came out of that machine was so destructive that I thought it was horrifying. That’s why I named it Zombie Music. Like the Frankenstein story, I wanted to develop this thing I had created.
On YouTube: “Taro Yasuno's Zombie Music (Digest Video)”
Survival is Never-ending
—Among your work in recent years, the Cosmo-Eggs exhibition at the Venice Biennale of Fine Arts in 2019 made a big impression, but are there any other major turning points since the origin of Zombie Music in 2012?
To me, performance of Zombie Opera at Festival/Tokyo 15 in 2015 was a turning point. I created the opera as a piece of music with a concept, with the Zombie Music apparatus recreated as a huge stage set. The first time I did a museum exhibition with that apparatus was in 2017, at a competition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu.
—You currently teach at Aichi University of the Arts.
Since April 2021, I joined the teaching staff at Aichi University of the Arts in the Composition Major Composition Course. I have a full-time job and am starting a new life in Nagoya, but I’m not sure if my “survival period” is over...I think I’m just embarking on a new kind of survival from a different starting point—as an artist, as well as a researcher and an educator at a university.
Left: Working on a new composition for automatic performance.
Right: Teaching a class at the university.
Photo: Tomohiko Sugino
Japanese original text: Emi Sato