This Contemporary Artist Has Built His Own History Of The World and Changed The Landscape

Swedish born contemporary artist, Stefan Larsson, set up Aujik in mid 2000 – it gradually started appearing on a variety of video platforms and featured fabricate histories that alluded to it having been around for years.

To the naked eye it looked like it produced reports on the state of the world based on research from, also fabricated, anthropologists and philosophers. It presented a new approach to the way the world worked, both what we can see of it and what we can’t.

Stefan’s latest video project, Spatial Bodies, mimics the architecture of Tokyo as well as the natural growth that happens within the atmosphere. The organic way things grow versus our growth as humans, and as a society, we build on top of each other, we are inextricably intertwined and we live within many layers – of which we can only see the top few.

The nonsensical journey through a fictional place was inspired, as is expected of the Aujik realm, by influences both real and fictional. The concept first came to Stefan during a train journey through Tokyo, the Yamano Circle runs on a circumventory track and as such offers wonderous views over the landscape.

Though this is a very real perspective, though man-made, the video is also influenced by the video game, Katamari Damacy, and Lee Guo, the Taiwanese architect, and his ideas on the multiplicity of architectural clusters.

Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction and sometimes fiction allows us to ground our reality, this zany and mesmerizing film, modifies our ideas and literally, changes the landscape.

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We spoke to the creator, now living and working Japan, about inspiration, collaboration and his special brand of creativity.

The Plus: What inspired you to create this film?
Stefan Larsson:
The idea to it emerged while spinning around Tokyo on Yamanote line some years ago. Yamano circle around Tokyo like a loop and gives an astonishing panorama over the urban landscape which looks like an agglomeration of concrete structures in all various forms; quite similar to a forest.
I thought I would like to stretch that impression and to make it more abstract and organic. I made some test using just a regular DSLR on a steadicam but couldn’t get the high scale perspective I had envisioned. Several years later when drones became more accessible (i.e. cheaper and more trustful) I realized it was possible to accomplish it.

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TP: Who is the collaboration with and how did it come about?
SL:
Its a collaboration with a Japanese electronic artist called Daisuke Tanabe. I discovered his music just a few years ago and been hooked since. I’m a complete nerd on electronic music and earlier collaborated with other artists in the genre such as Mira Calix and Christ.
Tanabe-sans music really appealed to me because of the unique glitches and beats he uses, it also sounds a little mysterious and for me a bit reminiscent to Joe Hisaishi’s scores for Studio Ghibli’s movies which was sort of the atmosphere I had in mind for this video. Also since he lives in the Tokyo area I think he easily could get an impression on how to compose something in harmony with a massive concrete forest.

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TP: Talk us through the creative process.
SL:
First stop was to shot it which was very frighting consider the environment. It all went very well, even though is something I prefer to do only once in a lifetime.
Then I motion tracked all the footage, most of it I had to do manually order to get an idea of shapes and orientations of the buildings. Took nearly a week just to motion track it.
After that I built around 50 houses in 3D studio Max. Most of them have high details while others are more simple. I had to check up most of them on Google map to get the right textures, proportions and angles. Was quite tricky. Also difficult to decide how much details that was necessary. It all took nearly 4 months, working basically all the time.

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TP: What is it that you love about architecture?
SL:
I’m actually not so interested in architecture in particular, but more how it integrates or contrast with the surroundings.  What impact various forms can have and how they resonate with the us humans and the environment.
I used to be really in to Skateboarding grooving up, so I suppose that’s another aspect about architecture that influenced me. How you can approach it other ways than what it was made for and that sort of creative process.

TP: Sum up Spatial Bodies in three words. 
SL:
Architectural vegetation clusters.

TP: Why did you chose Spatial Bodies as the name for the video?

SL:
I usually come up with the title when I first start working on a video. Eventually it will change during the period, but somehow the title is rather important, it gives some sort of direction at an early stage. I think the words Spatial and Bodies describe the content rather accurate.

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TP: Where do you think the future of cityscapes looks like?
SL:
Hard to predict since we’re living in a very fragile era at the moment. Not sure where its heading. I’m afraid it will be more segregated and controlled in the near future in most parts of the world.
Then there’s places such as Dubai. However, I’m a bit intrigued by future city visions like Jacque Fresco’s organic Venus Project or Le Corbusier’s future brutalism. And even more of the city’s depict in comics, such as the extreme brutalism dystopi in Judge Dredd or the lush concrete world in Aeon Flux.

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TP: What’s next for you?
SL:
Currently I’m working on some music videos for a hip-hop artist and a Chinese electronic artist so busy with that during summer. Mainly been working for other artist for the last years.
Hope to get some funding later this year and focus on some projects I’ve been planing. First is to complete a book with illustrations and text about AUJIK and then to make a Virtual Reality project, and hopefully also make a short animated film I’ve been planing with a musician and writer.

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