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    Luisa Whitton: Osaka / / Tokyo

The Graduates 2013: Luisa Whitton gets deep inside the Japanese robotics industry

Posted by James Cartwright,

Photographer Luisa Whitton is a serious Japanophile. When she’s not walking the streets of Osaka and Tokyo capturing locals doing their thing, she’s deep within the country’s robotic research facilities cataloguing the synthetic faces, mechanical arms and cold, dead stares of the very latest in technological innovation. The robot interest has also come into play in another personal project that’s seen her hack an Xbox Kinect to make it into a rudimentary photographic device.

For someone who’s only just left the London College of Communication, Luisa’s commitment to her subject is phenomenal. She’s already spent two years abroad during her degree, working on personally motivated projects that she’s strategically incorporated into her coursework. In doing so, she feels she’s gained a better understanding of how to make work outside the confines of education; a skill that every graduate should really possess when they pick up their diploma. Most don’t though, which set Luisa apart from many of her peers.

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    Luisa Whitton: Osaka / / Tokyo

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    Luisa Whitton: Osaka / / Tokyo

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    Luisa Whitton: Osaka / / Tokyo

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    Luisa Whitton: Osaka / / Tokyo

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    Luisa Whitton: Osaka / / Tokyo

Why or who or what made you go to art school?

In school I did all the art subjects – textiles, product design, graphics – but the common approach I took in all these subjects was to use photography to visualise an idea. I really enjoyed making exciting images and couldn’t imagine studying anything other than photography.

What’s the best mistake you made when you were studying?

In the second year of my course I got involved with a competition that kick-started my project What About The Heart? I was working on that outside of education, but I decided to combine the two and schedule a whole two-year project abroad whilst studying in the UK. At first I thought that was a mistake, because every week other photographers would be producing new work in the studio, and at one point I hadn’t shot anything new in new months. But I think that helped me learn a lot about the realistic process of making work outside of my course, and it all paid off in the end.

If you could show your work to one person, who would you choose and what would you show them?

I would love to show my work to the Japanese author Haruki Murakami – he has written some of my favourite books which have sparked ideas for projects.

Can you give us one prediction about your work for the next year?

I have been researching some more weird and wonderful technological niches in America and Australia. If I am travelling and taking interesting photographs then I’ll be happy!

What’s the best thing you saw in the last three years?

I have seen some amazing things in Japan these past three years, but the best moment has to be when I got the chance to operate the robot, Telesevar V. It was made to give an out-of-body illusion. I had to put on this whole kit and a head-mounted display and when I opened my eyes and looked down I was seeing through the eyes of the robot and had robot hands that moved when I did! It was the strangest experience.

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    Luisa Whitton: Xbox Portraits

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    Luisa Whitton: Xbox Portraits

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    Luisa Whitton: Xbox Portraits

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    Luisa Whitton: What About The Heart?

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    Luisa Whitton: What About The Heart?

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    Luisa Whitton: What About The Heart?

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    Luisa Whitton: What About The Heart?


We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2013 is once again being supported by Represent Recruitment who are themselves celebrating being ten years old this summer. The graphic design recruitment specialists have developed a peerless reputation working with designers of all levels and matching them up with the right positions in some of the top agencies around. Represent’s support has helped us grow the Graduates scheme over recent years and we are thrilled they have partnered with us again in 2013.


Posted by James Cartwright

James started out as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our two editors. He oversees Printed Pages magazine and content wise has a special interest in graphic design and illustration. He also runs our online shop Company of Parrots and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.