There are people that matter for a century; a lot of great artists, talents, lovers, dreamers change their inner circles; but not so many of them are able to mix the ability to trigger people’s interest to a vision of how society could look like.
We’ve bet that Sputniko! is currently leading a deep revolution. The artist *slash* DJ *slash* teacher *slash* young woman was born from an English mother and a Japanese father. After studies in Mathematics and Design Interactions, she “grew interested in the arts which allowed her scientific thinking to become more communicative and widespreadable”. From female power to pop culture, from cyborgs to education, Sputniko! ‘s work is a living organism. In 2011, she exhibited her work at MoMA with a very provocative Menstruation Machine based on a simple question: it’s 2010, then why are humans still menstruating?
As Sputniko! explores the relationship between identity, biology, and freedom of choice, we wanted to discover the girl who’s now a World Economics Forum Global Shapers Community Member. Sputniko! accepted to be the girl-next-Skype-door for us; wearing a navajo top, there sat the face of someone who grows faster than her age, Sputniko! slapped our European preconceptions, of course. Mind the text: you’re going to have a crush.
Sputniko! , you’re part of what HR guys would define as “slashers”. Do you agree with this idea?
I guess so, but that’s half explained with my background in Japan; the boundaries between art, music & commercial is very blurred compared to Europe.
Even toys are sometimes designed by interesting artists (think about Maywa Denki who is a very popular comedian, and also an artist).
But another thing is, as I’m now working a lot online, I show my work on Tumblr and in Social Media, so well, you tend to become a digital character. When you show your work in galleries, you share thoughts that become popular online, it appeals to people in different ways. You become a “slasher” because you exist in diverse minds.
I make “works” like Menstruation Machine. But I also write music, I’m contracted to a record label in Japan (Dreamusic); I’m also appearing on TV in Japan, it’s called “Tokyo Designers Week“. I’ve also been modeling for Louis Vuitton and Prada. In the meantime, Japanese government had this project called “Cool Japan“, a community of 20 people; it’s a set of meetings on how to take Japanese culture out of Japan. Most of the members are heads of fashion brands. I’m the youngest person so I’m a woman talking to politicians, so I’m now also involved in politics!
I’m a bit mixed up at the moment but in a positive way. In a slasher way.
We read that Japanese youth is kinda depressed: do you think that it’s changing?
Japan’s economy is not well these days. The kids feel pessimistic; part of the reason why the government called me is that I’m pulling, attracting people. The way I’m working is completely out of formal Japanese system or education, aiming to get “a proper job“. I’m sort of always breaking the rules; I think I embody the new style of being young in Japan, which is: don’t trust the system and do your own business!
A lot of my fans are at College and we’ve grouped for this sort of new projects. The old motto: “go to good uni, get a good job, get married“, well it’s not really working anymore
Is there hope?
I truly believe in Dreampolitik, and it’s written by Stephen Duncombe (NYU); he writes about embracing populism, pop culture for progressive ideas. When you think pop culture, you think unimaginative, poor. But in fact, that’s the old fashioned way of considering it. If you have a dream that no one follows, it’s an empty dream.
If you want to make a movement, I believe, I try to embrace populism, try to become popular, captivate broader audience, make business to spread more.
Anti Pop & anti market ideas…it belongs to the past.
Do you consider yourself as a feminist?
I still call myself a feminist. In Japan, women are highly educated but a lot of them quit the jobs after getting married and having children! In Japan, it’s important to call myself a feminist. In Japan, the pill got released after viagra did! It only took the Ministry of Health 6 months to approve Viagra, but it took them more than 9 years to approve the contraceptive pill in 1999!
We had to lead this fight to get it – 3 months later !!!
As you know, I’ve studied computer science and technology. We women want to get more and more involved with science. Old fashion feminists used to consider science as a symbol of masculinity, whereas now we need to get involved with science & technology as it shapes the future. In Japan, we’re trying to hack gender.
Going back to your menstruation machine: what did you expect from your public?
When I did the research, around menstruation, I realized that women could technically have menstruation every 6 months with a Pill. So the scientists, when they released the pills 50 years ago, they consciously designed them on a 3 week / 1 week of resting basis because of the moral values: women had to bleed.
Still, women bleed every month, it’s painful, it makes you feel unstable. There are now new Extended cycle combined hormonal contraceptive pills (ie: Lybrel or Seasonique), if you take them, you only menstruate few times a year, so finally doctors “accepted” a society change.
With my work, instead of removing menstruation with technology, I wanted to put menstruation on a man; I wanted men to know how it feels. Less argument, more experience.
People have a choice to be a certain way. It’s not A vs B, it’s not capitalism vs communism. I think it’s fine if girls want to dress conservatively, I won’t take their freedom.
When I try to make these statements, I try to make it less “men vs women” but I like to bring interesting facts. It’s not a big team battle. It should not be binarian.
Do you think that dance-floor could be the most interesting agora for politics?
Dance-floor has always been a circus for politics, always. I think it’s a very valid place for politics. Clubs are where young people gather, where interesting minds face arguments and ideas.
Around me, most things happen on dance-floors. That’s why the Japanese politics invited me; because I was already on the political stage.
What’s the first thing you say to your students?
“IGNORE YOUR TEACHERS”. Students who only listen to what I say are the most boring students.
Thank you Sputniko!
You can visit “Anonymous Life” at ICC gallery until March 3rd. And “Speculative Everything”, a book written by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby (about RCA Design Interactions students) is about to be released.