Natsu Kawakita (JP) Karakuri Block

modular interaction device, 2004

Karakuri Block is a playful and easy-to-use modular interaction device that consists of several wireless TV monitor devices that display little animations of virtual characters whose stories change, depending on the actual position and combinations of the TV monitors. The system itself consists of an interaction table located by these TV monitors. Users freely assemble and combine these blocks and depending on the combination of the blocks, different animations are shown on the screens.

Block-shaped interface: a simple block without any buttons or switches enables any users to handle the device intuitively and playfully.

- contents: the images between two displays on each block react to each other two blocks are put together. When you change the position of the blocks, the story on the display goes on.

Karakuri Block has two contents: MON and OTOGI

MON, one of the contents, is based on Japanese family crests. Just a few have been chosen from the more than 20,000 different Japanese family crests. These Japanese family crests have a very simple and unique design with a basic structure and motif. The different motifs can be combined, in order to complete one crest. With Karakuri Block, the users can make their own combinations from the motifs and create a new “MON”.

OTOGITUZURA is another content. Nine animations dwell in the nine spaces of a Karakuri Block. Nine souls have a duty and a color in each.

An animation can be seen by putting a block on each place. Moreover, if two blocks are combined, the two animations displayed on a block will influence each other. By combining two blocks, players can enjoy changes in and communication between each animation.

A further development of Karakuri Block would be the use of multiple blocks, in order to accomplish more complex three-dimensional form and integration with a mobile device, such as iPhone. The contents can be developed, for instance with a simple dramaturgy-like picture book, and the concept of a game. By the development of hard- and software, Karakuri Block is intended to be a new platform for experiencing playful content.

Natsu Kawakita (JP)

Since 2003, Natsu Kawakita & Nobuya Suzuki have worked on the development of the Karakuri Block as a platform for storytelling, with an intuitive control interface. Natsu Kawakita (concept) studied interactive art at IAMAS, Japan and graduated in 2004. She works on the method of story-telling that involves animation. Nobuya Suzuki (researcher) is Associate Professor at IAMAS, Japan. His research field is interactive art and interaction design using programming. Further research topics: Ubiquitous-computing, digital archiving.