When you google the term “device art” results appear that concern either Croatian or Japanese device art. The second, the Japanese results, are far more numerous, but then, there are sound objective reasons for this. These reasons derive from the conceptual nature of the actual projects, as well as the circumstances in which the projects are produced.

Device Art is a concept that was invented almost at the same time in 2004 in Japan and here. Those who follow the scene related to arts and the new technologies cannot believe that it is not a matter of a kind of copying, and wonder who took the title from whom. But we claim that Device Art is just one more piece of evidence showing that ideas are universal.

Also, the fact that, for better or worse, we share the same project name does not mean that the concept that the term signifies is the same. Dr Andreas Broeckmann, art historian and independent curator, long term director of the Transmedial Festival, getting hold of a catalogue of the first exhibition of Device Art in Zagreb, commented on the difference with the words: Exactly the opposite! Of course, there was a slight exaggeration in this, for it is not completely opposite, but it is certain that the Japanese and the Croatian versions of Device Art do differ conceptually. The Japanese term for Device Art was thought up by Dr Machiko Kusahara, a very distinguished lecturer at UCLA and Dr Hiroo Iwata from Tsukuba University, and the name, simplified, meant something that was part product, part toy, part sculpture.

There are three basic characteristics of Japanese Device Art. The first is that the mechanism itself constitutes the subject of the work, i.e. the medium is the content; the second is that the artworks are often designed for play, and in some cases are mass produced and meant for wide commercial distribution. The third characteristic is that the playfulness of the works derives from the Japanese tradition and culture that have always been intrigued with sophisticated tools and materials.

There are two kinds of future, says Derrida – la future – that future that is in some sense predictable, measurable, probable, and l’avenir – which is totally unexpected and according to his way of thinking the real future. Device Art artists from Japan work on the aspect of the unexpectedness and unpredictability of our future for with their chic inventions and their mass distribution they can contribute to changing it. And if the future looks like a commercial from the Maywa Denki factory filled with playful, gentle and refined musical robots, we have nothing against it.