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Drones on the Dance Floor

These Tokyo creatives are mixing man and machine in imaginative, improbable forms

In the quiet surroundings of Tokyo’s Ebisu district, a startling contrast to nearby Shibuya’s frenetic sensory overload, the studio Daito Manabe and Mikiko Mizuno share sits on the ground floor of a nondescript apartment block. Sandwiched between the elevated Yamanote train and the concrete-lined Shibuya River, you would be forgiven for missing it altogether. There is no sign or front door. When I arrive, a kindly neighbor points me to a discreet side entrance and into the creative laboratory the couple shares with Rhizomatiks, the renowned design firm Manabe helped create.

Once inside, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of the cavernous space and colossal collection of electronic equipment, including shelves of carefully lined-up drones. It’s like a playground. Manabe is a skilled programmer, designer, DJ, VJ, and composer; Mizuno is a choreographer and founder of dance company Elevenplay. This is where their creative projects come to life, blending art and technology in immersive, improbable configurations.

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