Above: Toshio Iwai with his Tenori-On digital musical instrument, due to launch in 2007.
Continuing my small series on personal heroes, I’m adding Toshio Iwai. I remember first seeing his work when my class from the RCA’s Computer Related Deign program went to the Doors of Perception conference in Amsterdam I think it was the second one, whose theme was home. This was in 1995, I think.
Toshio Iwai had an exhibition nearby of a lot of his work and I was totally blown away by it. It’s playful, creative, and usually focused on music. I remember his Musical Insects, designed while he was artist in residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. It’s a grid containing small bugs that walk around in a predictable pattern, and in front of which you draw colored notes to “paint” music. There’s a clear evolution from that bit of work to the one that he’s probably best known at the moment, Electroplankton for the Nintendo DS handheld gaming console.