Creation beyond consciousness

Creation beyond consciousness

Visual art has always been the focus of Tokyo-based Kota Yamaji. But, luckily for lovers of fashion, the characters of the hyper saturated, surrealist worlds Kota constructs across music videos and graphic illustrations require clothing. In their digital fashion design process, Kota cites brands such as ADER Error, Undercover, and Kenzo as key references. This love of streetwear shows in the eye-catching layers and baggy silhouettes. Kota grew up in Tokyo, and his use of color, rounded shapes, and repeating patterns are steeped in Japanese pop culture and the city’s neon lights. As his passion for art grew, his inspirations diversified to include the works of Dali, René Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico, and other luminaries of the Surrealist, Scuola Metafisica, and Dada movements. We met with Kota to discuss creation beyond consciousness, designing outfits for shadows, and the growing significance of digital fashion.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Tokyo, Japan. As you might know, comic books and animations are so popular in Japan, and I grew up reading comic books and drawing illustrations. I can’t specify what aspects of comic books inspire my work now, but they definitely find their way in.

Does your physical world, living in a city like Tokyo, influence your work?

There are 4 seasons in Japan, spring, summer, fall, and winter. I’m not sure this physical situation actually affects my work, but I’m so lucky to be born in this country. I can feel different emotions in each season.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

Usually, I work on 3d or something at home, facing my computer all day.

You cite several surrealist artists as a significant influence on your work - Dali and Magritte. What about their works or their persona makes them a consistent reference point for you?

The main concept of Surrealism and Dadaism is to remove the consciousness from their creation. This is so impressive because, basically, artworks are limited by our consciousness and thoughts. These movements and the artists who were a part of them created a method to make artworks not being bound by them.

What do you like about the dadaists?

They broke the stereotypical concept of art like realism and made a new movement. And this movement is connected to surrealism, so for me, it’s also impressive.

Who is the artist you would most like to share a meal with?

I’m afraid I would get nervous if I shared a meal with the artists that I really admire. But I would love to share a meal with Andy Warhol.

How did you get into digital fashion? Your characters are quite abstract, and their clothing is more grounded in reality.

At first, I was just interested in the software simulating garments, and I began to make digital clothes. When I make digital clothes, I want to focus on the garments, so the characters need to be abstract. They are just like a shadow. I don’t imagine real people wearing my clothes, but it would be interesting to convert my digital creations into real pieces someday.

Do you have a background in fashion?

No. I studied graphic design at the Tama Art University based in Tokyo. But fashion design has always inspired me. I’m always gathering a bunch of images on Pinterest and use them as references when I make garments on Marvelous Designer.

What opportunities do you see evolving from the various realities generated in the Metaverse?

The demand related to Metaverse or AR will increase year by year. Specifically, digital garments will be important. We have to use a lot of resources to make real clothing, and a lot of people are working hard for low wages around the world to make clothes. I see digital clothing as one of the solutions for that.

You also direct and animate music video clips. What is your relationship to music?

I’m always inspired by music, the same as fashion. I make visuals, but music is not based on the visual but on sounds. Music and fashion seem to be completely different, but I feel they both have similar concepts in the way they combine different elements and create layers.

I also understand that you’re a big reader. Are there any Japanese authors you would recommend?

Actually, I like philosophy books rather than novels. But I like Ryo Asai. He is around the same age as me, and his novels represent and express the emotions that our age commonly feels.

Your work is very other-worldly. Do you feel you have a rich inner world/active imagination?

Regarding each individual idea, I don’t have any special or specific imagined worlds or ideas. But, the most important principle to making creative works is the combination of imaginations. So in my case, that is different from others.

If you have a day where you don’t feel inspired to create art, what do you do to re-inspire yourself?

There are a lot of things that inspire me in this world, like art, movies, books, and so on. So I would take some time to enjoy these, or do some other immersive activities, to empty my brain.

Images: Kota Yamaji
Words: Sally Paton