Interview with Japanese Artist Ryota Matsumoto

Ryota Matsumoto
Ryota Matsumoto


Ryota Matsumoto is an artist, educator, and architect based in New York and Tokyo.

Born in Tokyo, he was raised in Hong Kong and Japan. He is known as the forefather of the postdigital art movement internationally. He received a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007 after his studies at the Architectural Association in London and Mackintosh School of Architecture, the Glasgow School of Art in the early 90’s. 

He collaborated with a cofounder of the Metabolist Movement, Kisho Kurokawa, and with Arata Isozaki, Peter Christopherson, and MIT Media Lab.

He has presented his work on multidisciplinary design, visual culture, and urbanism at the 5th symposium of the Imaginaries of the Future at Cornell University, the Espaciocenter workshop at TEA Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts, iDMAa Conference 2017,  Network Media Culture Symposium at Machida Museum of Graphic Arts, and NTT InterCommunication Center as a literary critic and artist.

As a video producer and designer, he has worked with Peter Christopherson of Coil and Hipgnosis for Japanese Nike commercial and contributed to his first solo album, Form Grows Rampant as Threshold Houseboys Choir.

Matsumoto is the recipient of Visual Art Open International Artist Award, Florence Biennale Mixed Media 2nd Place Award, The International Society of Experimental Artists Best of Show Gracie Award, Premio Ora Prize Italy 5th Edition, Premio Ora Prize Spain 1st Edition, Donkey Art Prize III Edition Finalist, Best of Show IGOA Toronto, Art Kudos Best of Show Award, FILE (Electronic Language International Festival)  Media Art Finalist, Lynx International Prize Be Art Builder Award, Lumen Prize Finalist, and Western Bureau Art Prize Honorable Mention.

He was awarded the Gold Artist Prize from ArtAscent Journal, the 1st Place Prize from Exhibeo Art Magazine, and the Award of Excellence from the Creative Quarterly Journal of Art and Design in 2015 and 2016. His work is part of the permanent collection of University of Texas at Tyler.

His work, writings, and interviews were published in Kalubrt Magazine, University of North Carolina Wilmington Journal Palaver,, The Journal of Wild Culture, Studio Visit Magazine, Fresh Paint Magazine, H+ Magazine, International Artist Magazine, Made In Mind Magazine, Arizona State University Journal Superstition Review, Creative Review, Next Nature Network,, Carbon Culture Review, Digital America, KooZA/rch, e-flux, Supersonic Art, Post Digital Aethetics (Berry and Dieter ed.), Drawing Discourse (University of North Carolina Asheville), Highlike (SEPI-SP editors), and Drawing Futures (The Bartlett UCL), among others. 

Matsumoto's multidisciplinary projects have been exhibited recently at Meadows Gallery University of Texas at Tyler, S. Tucker Cooke Gallery University of North Carolina Asheville, Sebastopol Center for the Arts, National Museum of Korea, CICA Museum, Van Der Plas Gallery, ArtHelix Gallery, Caelum Gallery, LAIR Gallery Lakehead University, Limner Gallery, the Cello Factory, University of the District of Columbia, Lux Art Gallery, Studio Montclair, Manifest Gallery, Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, Art Basel Miami, ISEA International, FILE Sao Paulo, Nook Gallery, and Arts and Heritage Centre Altrincham. 

He had solo exhibitions at BYTE Gallery Transylvania University (2015), Los Angeles Center of Digital Art (2016), and Alviani ArtSpace, Pescara (2017).

Matsumoto’s work reflects the morphological transformations of our ever-evolving urban and ecological milieus, which could be attributed to a multitude of spatio-temporal phenomena influenced by social, economic and cultural assemblages. They are created as visual commentaries on speculative changes in notions of societies, cultures and ecosystems in the transient nature of constantly shifting topography and geology.


1. Can you highlight your artistic journey with the defining moments that brought you great clarity both creatively and philosophically?

I am always aware of incorporating the interdisciplinary approach when visualizing my architectural projects, and that eventually opens up to a broader holistic perspective of the visual media, which encompasses the multiplicity of interconnected trans-corporeality in the framework of the creative praxis. 

I believe that art and architecture are both informed by hybrid quasi-objects that predate the subject–object distinction and mediate between the preindividual becoming of thought and historical determinism in the realm of art and technology. I perceive artworks as hybrid entities organized and cumulated by the socio-cultural process of negotiation because they are the outcomes of the interfolding association between artists, their creative processes, and the immutable mobiles they adopt in the context of the techno-scientific network or, as Bruno Latour would sum up, as a parliament of things. 

Moreover, what fascinates me about the concept of hybrid entities is the empirical aspect of the interobjective relationship that shapes our experiences beyond the Cartesian dualistic perspective. It explores the epistemological boundaries of perception–images, meta-language, and metaphorical representation, as well as the cross-fertilizations among them in the framework of a socio-biologically mediated system that encapsulates the multiplicity of cultural, ecological, and technological agents.

2. What is the source of your creative passion and inspiration?

I explore and am inspired by the role of dissonance and the pluri-dimensional aspect of cacophony as a form of interference in the fidelity of digital communication and a catalyst for undermining the orthographic divide of digital platforms. As probabilistic preindividuation in the form of miscommunication disrupts established patterns and introduces variability, it can lead to the emergence of new images of thought through phase fluctuations in the striated orthogonal system. 

In this sense, the cacophony can be seen as a source of unpredictability, pushing established systems and individuals to explore the heterogeneous association of socio-cultural actors through the translation process of hermeneutic devices. By the same token, the accumulation of pure potentialities in jitter interference contributes to the complex system of indeterminacy in the socio-cultural domain. It introduces multiple perspectives, unpredictable possibilities, and multivalent interpretations, enriching the overall landscape and facilitating the emergence of new connections in the hybrid network of interobjective entities. 

The unquantized stream of interference, in this sense, can introduce multiple alternative perspectives, enriching the overall landscape and facilitating the emergence of interconnected assemblages across a variety of creative disciplines through the act of the mimetic adaptation process. 

3. Does it come from within and/or do you have outside influences that you turn to for affirmation, meaning, andinterpretation?

Considering the progress of our collective individuation as social entities through the technological advances of the last 10 years or so, I believe that knowledge creation and its dissemination will continue to be configured by a multivalent interplay of sociocultural and techno-pharmacological agents through our interaction with technical artifacts. This includes the way in which we create, share, and transmit the situated knowledge across generations, aswell as the underlying technologies that we use to facilitate the graphematic thinking process and to cultivate theexternalization of collective memory as tertiary retention.

One area of interest for me is the impact of digital technologies on collective memory and the ways in which we construct narratives about the past in the creative realm. With the rise of ubiquitous computing, social media, and other participatory platforms, we are seeing a multiliteracy approach to engaging with art objects, which challenges traditional modes of archival practices and documentation. Rather than relying on a few authoritative sources to construct a historical narrative, people are able to share their personal stories and experiences with others, creating a rich tapestry of historical memory shaped by a diverse range of perspectives through immersive, multisensory, and participatory media. In short, everyone is able to contribute to the externalization of collective memory from the mnemonic capabilities of networked mediation.

I am fascinated by the new modes of engaging with visual media and how they pave the way for more inclusive and collective representations of sociocultural artifacts, which are eventually assimilated as immutable inscriptions in the centers of calculation. Our understanding of creative knowledge is informed not only by one’s enfolding personal narrative but also by the external technological practices in which they are presented as epiphylogenetic constructs.

4. Your ideas may not be understood by all. In layman's terms, what do you want the viewers of your work to come away with after being in the presence of your creations?

My artworks initially started out as several fragmentary variants that were derived from the elements of my previous works. They were then merged into the artwork through algorithmic appreciation and the embedded meta-language of transition probabilities. 

Consequently, the new work captures and appropriates some of the conceptual substructures of previousworks, while it can stand on its own as a self-referential assemblage. There is also a common thread with regard to visual abstraction in my work: the multiplicity of hybrid objects that unfold within their own spatiotemporal coordinates of phase space and are transcribed to an image plane. In that regard, the creative process of drawing, henceforth, can be defined as the swirls of virtual intensities that are reconfigured as the cartography of spatiotemporal reality.

It’s important to note that artistic expression is not a medium unto itself, but rather the image of thought or the plane of immanence that emphasizes the metastable nature of surface, texture, and smooth lines over the orthographic conventions of representational imagery. Artistic expression allows one to make a cascade of inscriptions as the potentiality of virtual ideas without being bound by the orthogonal constraints of figurative representation.

5. Is there a basic tenet in your body of work that you can reveal to viewers, or a single understanding you want to impart?

As far as the creative practice is concerned, I’d like to attain the transversal and multidisciplinary approach that breaks down the boundaries between the heterogeneous domains of immutable mobiles and the cascades of subject–group relations in an epistemological context. The transversal perspective might be required to maximize artists’ creative coefficients by unmooring their traditional roles. However, it could also dissolve the Cartesian mode of representation and reveal a path to more open-ended and divergent forms of cultural production.