Interview with Ka0ru: How I Combined Philosophy and Creativity in My Work
On VeeR, there’s a video called The Philosopher’s Apple that deserves all the good words: astonishing, splendid, miraculous, you name it. This video restores a 3D cartoon world, and makes everyone a resident in that colorful environment. Today we will have a talk with the creator Ka0ru, a Japanese artist, about her work and the philosophy behind it.
VeeR: Your logo looks interesting. Would you tell us the story behind it?
This logo came from my name “KA0RU”. In Kanji (Japanese Character), Kaoru is written as 薫 , and this logo is designed to represent a simplified version of the character. The circle in the center represents Zero or “Enso” (In Zen, a circle denotes a moment when the mind lifts all limits on one’s creation so one can express themselves freely) , which is my philosophy.
VeeR: People loved The Philosopher’s Apple, but sometimes they want to know more. Does it turn out to be a love story after all? What eventually enlightens the doctor?
KA0RU: The philosopher (doctor) realizes that having a straightforward turn of mind is important, and finally musters up the courage to confess to the apple. He then discovers that the law of gravitation means that all things are attracted to each other. The story ends with a scene where the philosopher whispers some words to the apple and the apple blushes and slowly falls into the hands of the philosopher. I will leave it to the imagination of the viewer as to what exactly the philosopher says to the apple and how such a relationship is developed.
VeeR: Is the apple a metaphor, if so, what does it represent?
KA0RU: The red and pretty looks of the apple were superimposed onto two images of a cute girl and an apple falling to the ground by universal gravitation.
The idea of the story came to me out of the blue to dramatize the story of Newton’s discovery gravity. The image of the apple that falls due to gravity has transformed into a love story of a man and a girl who are mutually attracted.
VeeR: As you’ve stated, the story is inspired by Isaac Newton. So, are you a science enthusiast yourself?
KA0RU: I didn’t have a profound knowledge of science, but science is my favorite field, with its diverse branches fascinating me deeply, such as space, quantum mechanics, biology, cognitive science, and so on. Kenji Miyazawa, a Japanese writer, can find a loyal reader in me, who has been mesmerized by his philosophy that draws connection between natural science and the whole world as a source of creation. I hope to give representation of such a world view with my work.
VeeR: Can you tell us a little bit of your backstory? What led you to create such a unique VR experience as in The Philosopher’s Apple?
KA0RU: I have made VR videos in the past archiving cultural heritage, so I was no stranger to the production methods. I’ve also liked painting since I was a kid.
The reason behind creating this video is because I had always wanted to express my own worldview with my work. In embodying the worldview, I was inspired by many predecessors. One was a vivid and geometric image of Buddhist painting about Mandala—Oriental Cosmology. Another one is a medieval European illustration book, showcasing print and designs completely beyond the depth of modern society marked by mass consumption. In addition, I was inspired by sketches of mysterious plants that appear in the Voynich manuscripts. So it was a miscellany of multiple strands of thoughts.
VeeR: Do you think VR is a better way of storytelling than others after experiencing such success?
KA0RU: I think VR is fantastic in transporting the audience to another world, experiencing a story first-hand and feeling sympathetic toward the characters. I hope that it enters people’s everyday life. On the other hand, I find it really tricky to direct my audience and highlight what I expect them to see. I would like to research more on this.
VeeR: Are you thinking of starting a career as a VR artist?
KA0RU: My passion for self-expression through media is not limited to VR, since traditional media has its merits too, but of course VR will play an important role in my future plans.
VeeR: What are you planning on doing next?
KA0RU: Now I’m planning a new story which will be released in both VR and 360. It is going to be another fantasy world for kids and adults alike.I would also like to take on more cutting-edge technology such as interactive video, hologram and AR.
VeeR: Can you share with other artists what software you used to create the video? Do you have any advice for those attempting to convert their work into VR?
KA0RU: I mainly used Unity. I felt that Unity was very effective in creating 360 videos for individuals or small teams. Especially, rendering with Unity takes significantly less time than normal 3D software, I was able to do enough trial and error even if it was a large 4K video of 9 minutes at 60 fps.
VeeR: As a pioneer yourself, what insight do you have on the role VR plays in the animation industry? Will it become the next best thing soon? How will it evolve in the future?
KA0RU: In my opinion, as VR is still taking its baby steps toward reaching a large user base, to develop ways of surprising and impressing one’s viewers should be the creators’ focus. By envisioning and producing my last video, I’ve made many valuable finds that I will incorporate into my next creations. Among what I’ve learned, most important are first-person perspective, character animation and interaction with the characters. Considering my production is entirely the result of my personal effort, this might take some time.
To know about Ka0ru, please visit: www.ka0ru.com/apple360 and www.facebook.com/drapplevr!