Naoko Tosa @ Venice Biennial 2011

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See Venice 2011 Index


"Historia" in Piazza San Marco (ibex)

"Historia" in Piazza San Marco (mask)

"Historia" in Piazza San Marco (Julian Schnabel billboard)

"Historia" in Piazza San Marco (Campanile)

"Historia" in the Giardini (splash)

"Historia" in the Giardini (archer)

Description of “Historia”

"Historia" (1) Selection

"Historia" (2) Editing and (3) Snapshot

Various kinds of icons for visual communications have been used from
the very beginning of human history. We can find such various kinds of
icons in wall paintings all over the world, hieroglyphs, Celtic,
Chinese characters, earthen clay figures, totem poles, masks, pattern
and so on. There are lots of similarities among these icons. This
indicates that all human races came out of the same roots. Because of
this, even though most of us are not using these icons or old
characters, we have a kind of nostalgic feeling toward these

  1. This art work integrates various kinds of icons that have existed throughout human history and throughout the human races, jumping the gap of time and space. These icons are augmented over the actual scenery of Venice.
  2. On the display of a smartphone there are various icons flowing around on the space. As each of these icons has its own meaning, users can compose messages by selecting some of the icons one by one. (In the edit mode, users can insert modern icons such as “Emoticon”, flags and “Japanese MANGA.”
  3. In the next step, users are required to invent a “NEW” meaning of the icon sequence in English. The pictograph and the background are synthesized onto a screen shot .
  4. Through this experience people will feel that they are connected with people from a long time ago and far away, filling the gap of time and space. This is the actual experience of  “ILLUMinations.”



Naoko Tosa is a  Japanese media artist and Professor. She received a Ph.D. in engineering for Art and Technology research from the University of Tokyo. She is a professor at Kyoto University since 2005. She was a Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) from 2002-2004. She was a researcher at the ATR (Advanced Technology Research Labs) Media Integration & Communication Lab from 1995-2001.

Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art New York, the New York Metropolitan Art Museum, ACM SIGGRAPH, ARS ELECTRONICA, the Long Beach Museum, International Berlin Film Festival New media Division and other locations worldwide. Her works are also part of the collections at the Japan Foundation, the American Film Association, the Japan Film Culture Center, The National Museum of Art, Osaka and the Toyama Prefecture Museum of Modern Art.

In 1996, she received the best paper award from the IEEE International Conference on Multimedia. In 1997, the L’Oreal Grand Prix for research combining art and science awarded her First Prize. In 2000, she received prizes from the Interactive Art section in ARS Electronica, as well as a 2nd Prize for Nabi Digital Storytelling Competition of Intangible Heritage, organized by UNESCO 2004. She received  research funding from the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan in 2000, from the Japan Science and Technology Agency in 2001-2004, from France Telecom R & D in 2003-2005, from one of the biggest game company, Taito Corp. (“Space Invaders”) in 2005-2008 and from the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in 2005-2008.

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