Amagatana, bringing virtual fights into the physical world


In the multi-faceted genre of augmented reality gaming, many artists have attempted to translate virtual aspects of digital games into the physical world. These projects include everything from creating virtual maps transposed over physical locations, connecting the signage and language of these games to urban environments, and even shadowing avatar name tags over real people walking on the street as seen in such projects as Aram Bartholl’s “WOW” art project. Taking this aspect of gameplay to another level and integrating custom electronics into the mix is Japanese artist Yuichiro Katsumoto’s “AMAGATANA, Body Fantasia“. The project consists of a custom built samurai sword made from an umbrella with a 3 axis accelerometer, small sound playback device connected to an integrated netbook, electroluminescent (EL) wires for safety, all embedded into the handle of the “sword”. As the “player” swings the sword, the force of the swing is measured by the sensor, sent to the netbook which produces a “swing” sound and that of the sword hitting an opponent’s blade. The result is a self-contained performance or battle between two participants, although only one person is hodling the sword at any given time. The embedded sensor also judges the path and strength of the player’s swings, adjusting the sounds accordingly. The work is then is an amusing take on the typical sword fight where one player can endlessly joust with themselves.

Jonah Brucker-Cohen