Baku Hashimoto

橋本 麦

Not Moving Sofa Problem


This piece visualizes “the moving sofa problem” as a kinetic sculpture. The “sofa” moves through the L-shaped corridor forward and backward repeatedly.

I mainly used Cinema4D and Python to calculate and design this piece. Cutting all parts with a laser cutter, sanding its surface for three days.

Some of people might think this as a kind of visualization, educational stuff, or digital fabrication. However, I just wanted to make super smooth surface and super soft sofa as I’ve said over again. Because I regard it as a kinetic sculpture, not a physical computing stuff. Neither getting familiar with mechanics nor transplanting mathematical notion to the physical world could be my subject.

In my career, I often feel wired that people in the context of ‘art & tech’ have some certain biases. For instance, when I asked some artists to explain their idea, they tend to talk about its system just like using Kinect, RaspPi, connecting via OSC, and so on.

But I’d always been wondering why they weren’t telling the aesthetic aspect of their work, just like its color, texture, and how we can feel from it.

I’m not telling just an idealistic way of thinking. As I’ve studied and worked with video production without any code, I just feel such a way of thinking as natural.

I have some friends and co-workers who’re making music videos, animations:

I don’t know how they had thought and felt at that time, but I believe their main concern were in its aesthetics. Not some specific devices and frameworks.

When we meet and have a conversation, we almost spend time on highly abstract topics just like “don’t you feel mesosphere is so emotional?”, or “the rainbow reflection of gasoline on water is so stunning”.
Art is not topology. Art is not a specific combination of concepts, systems and devices, which is like a point cloud and wireframe. But it’s rather like vapor and it’s filling and enclosing an whole piece in a very abstract way. Even if there’re few works using completely same technologies, frameworks, they should have certain differences. Art is what differentiates them.

Some people might argue I should observe more intrinsic part of their work. Or some might say the system and ideology themselves can be the part of art. Of course, admittedly, these can be that. But I think it’s only if the work has certain aesthetics as feeling. Otherwise, there’s not reason these should be the form of art, not an essay or paper.

I don’t want to be exclusive to other people on art. There should be diversity on stances for art and I respect all of them. I just wanted to write down how I’m thinking so far.
Neat wiring and a caption with a clean edge are still important. A way of exhibiting is not just a way of presentation of one’s idea. But it’s an art itself.

The “extremely smooth surface” is still an essential part of my work. Because it strongly affects the impression of my work whether the surface is smooth or roughly cut by laser and interlocked with teeth, even though it’s completely irrelevant from its system and mechanics.

Through the moving sofa, I might want to express such my stance for art and technology. — It didn’t work at all after all, though.