• Benoit Palop

Gundam, JRPGs but also Dadaism and existentialism: Dive into Ikeuchi Hiroto's wearables


*La version française de ce texte est publié sur i-D France.

Arca, A$AP Rocky, Aya Sato, and Louis Vuitton also agreed. Ikeuchi Hiroto's work is truly badass. Wearable art boosted with Sci-Fi aesthetics, Ikeuchi's creations fully embrace Japanese pop and tech culture. At first glance, they are eclectic assemblages of half cyberpunk fashion accessories, half ready-made 3.0 using Plamo and Gunpla (models), VR headsets, and iPhones amongst others.

If you take a closer look, it's another world. These masks and exoskeletons made of diverted components, found here and there in the meanders of the Web, on the shelves of the stores of Akihabara or Yodobashi Camera, are some kind of ultra-detailed micro-universes that say a lot about the obsessive meticulousness cultivated throughout the archipelago. However, although the pop, gadget, and next-level cosplay side is highlighted, the Tokyo native's creations are full of much more edgy ideas.


Exploded inspirations: Between Japanese pop culture and philosophy

You don't have to be glued 24/7 to Game-One or Crunchyroll to realize the abundance of mecha anime references. The Evangelion, Gundam, Ghost in the Shell, and even Escaflowne franchises have, indeed, more than rubbed off on the form and aesthetics of Ikeuchi's productions. But behind the nerdy-geek aspect that is deployed without any restraint, a multitude of more abstract references are also playing a driving role.

While the complexity of Freudian theory subconsciously guided him from the beginning of this project, his studies at the prestigious Tama University of Art, and consequently having chilled out with students who were all killers in their field, also gave a boost to his work. "The people I studied with at Tama reminded me of Ryozanpaku, a complex and multi-talented character from the mythical JRPG Suikoden. Studying while surrounded by such a diverse and limitless creative force opened up my vision and allowed me to grow in what I do."

He appreciates and plays with this diversity, and it helps him to break free from all sorts of labels and other constraints that might keep him within the confines of a particular practice. Nevertheless, even though he claims to have no affiliation, he flirts unscrupulously with Neo-Dada and New Realism. "My work explores the border between everyday life and creative activities," he says to me. "As seen in Dadaism, for example, assembling content, moving away from the conflict between ideas and works, questioning the process of overcoming (Aufheben) and admitting contradictions between genres that appeal to me, that's how I define my work." He adds that he has always been inspired by many films, music, and books of different styles. The texts of French Existentialists like Sartre and Camus have, for example, influenced not only his life but also his production. And not just a little.


The ready-made revisited in an Otaku* way

**In Japan, the term Otaku has evolved and no longer has the pejorative connotation that it may still have in the West.

"My creative process begins the moment I get the inspiration." He explains to me. "It's pretty simple. I read a lot and do a lot of research on the internet to find ready-made ideas that fit my vision and are interesting to make. Once I have something cool in mind and have checked out the materials I have, I buy the pieces I need and start to put them together quietly. Then if necessary, I paint them to give unity between the materials when they are too disparate."

This mechanism, he tells me himself, is ultimately not so far from the one Duchamp used at the time when he assembled manufactured objects before conceding them the status of work of art. The difference with Marcel? Replacing bicycle wheels and wooden stools with electronic spare parts, Oculus Rift and derivatives, headphones, and pieces of robot models.


Towards a Bauhausian minimalism

Although he has little interest in the art and fashion industry, the buzz that has been popping around his work does not leave him indifferent. On the contrary, he loves it. "It happens more and more that artists, musicians, studios, or brands contact me because they love my creations and I am very honored." Despite having spent many hours on each of his pieces and therefore, to know every detail, they necessarily take another dimension and offer fresh perspectives when worn by others. Therefore, it is not so rare that new ideas emerge and that he wishes to explore them in parallel with his recent readings about Bauhaussian Minimalism, he tells me.

Finally, he has a lot of projects on the go. Collaborations with various artists, a group exhibition in a New York gallery, and a collaboration on a game with a big studio whose name he will not give me any details. Confidentiality agreement obliges.

He will make a small confession before concluding. "I have a little something in mind. Would anyone be interested in living in a house designed by me?".

Personally, I'd sign tomorrow.

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