Ogilvy & Mather Japan recently underwent an office upgrade and invited director Remo Camerota to create a huge piece of artwork for the wall. The idea was to create an inspiring environment for the agency’s staff to work in.

One of Ogilvy’s key words for employees is “intuition”, so Camerota was asked to create something on this theme. His artwork, titled Leave It Behind, involves 12 original songs composed specially for the wall.

There is about two hours of music scattered over the surface of the wall, with the idea that you must use your intuition to play all 12 tracks (each part of the wall plays a different song when touched). The music was composed with the knowledge that it is an office environment and people would be hearing it while creating their own work.

Below, Camerota, who is represented by Great Guns, explains a bit more about the project.

Tell us a bit about your background in art…

I have been painting murals since I was in the first grade. I was always the class artist and my teachers would get me to paint the Last Supper or zoo animals. I knew then I was going to be an artist when I grew up. I used to draw everything I saw.

I picked up my first film camera when I was seven and never looked back. Some of my favourite photographs are from when I was a kid. I guided my education through various art colleges and have a BA in fine art and photography and another BA in film, TV and animation from Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia.

I have been painting, taking photographs, publishing books, creating graphic novels, building art apps for the iPad/iPhone, animating and directing films, TVCs and music videos ever since leaving art and film school in the mid-1990s.

Why did Ogilvy Japan ask you to get involved?

My EP Laura Gregory was in Tokyo earlier this year and told Ajab Samrai that Great Guns had just signed me. They talked about finding a project we could collaborate on with him and his team.  Soon after, I went in for a meeting with Ajab and showed him some work and we both really hit it off. Sometime later Ajab created this project for the Ogilvy offices. He wanted to revamp the office and create a space that was inspiring for the Ogilvy team to work in. So he took the seven sayings from Ogilvy and invited six artists to participate in making the office a creative place to be. When Ogilvy started, they came up with seven one-word sayings that describe great work in advertising and Ogilvy itself. The word that Ajab gave me was ‘intuition’, so that is what I had to work with.

What attracted you to the project?

After meeting Ajab I felt a real connection with what he was trying to do at the Tokyo office. He really wanted to create something special and that’s exactly what I want to do with my own work. Also, Ogilvy is a highly respected and awarded network with at least 131 lions from Cannes under its belt – I couldn't resist this opportunity.

Besides this, I was very keen to work in Tokyo again, which I know and love so well. I lived in Tokyo for six years working as a artist, photographer and director. I photographed two bestselling books, Graffiti Japan and Drainspotting, created several graphic novels with Japanese artists and directed a short film, music videos and several TVCs in the form of animation and live action.

How did the idea for Leave it Behind came about? 

To be completely honest, it was the first idea that came to me. How do ideas come about? For me when someone gives me a brief, or word in this case, something usually pops into my head immediately. I could see it straight away. Chopsticks holding a brain, suggesting to leave it behind or eat it, thus using your intuition to think.

But I wanted to take it further using sound as another element to make the environment inspiring. I had just acquired this new technology in the form of electric paint and a tiny Arduino computer that connects to the paint allowing one to play sound by touching it, so I started thinking of how I could incorporate this into the art piece.

Tell us a bit about how you created the artwork

Once I had the design down in illustrator and we got it approved, I then created huge stencils to paint the separate elements on the wall. The stencils were about two metres by three metres each in some cases. They were really large and hard to handle. I prepared this in Los Angeles before going to Tokyo. From here, I tested the sound elements on a small scale and noted that I could use this electric paint and then paint over it, thus hiding the sound sources.

I then decided to correlate the colour by numbers idea into play by numbers and began designing the sound to accompany the artwork. 

Tell us a bit about the musical aspect of the artwork

Having a musical background from being in a few bands and creating sound for video installations, I was familiar with the notion of creating artwork that speaks. But this was the first time that I could create something that sang without knowing where the sound was coming from or where to touch the image to trigger the sound. Basically I wanted the spectator to use their intuition to find the 12 sound tracks, by feeling around the image for the hot spots that would trigger the sound.

The creation of the sound also was done intuitively, keeping in the theme that was given to me. I wanted to make the soundtrack electronic, slow and contemplative. All 12 tracks were created from scratch and played live while I added instrument after instrument, intuitively, letting the machines evolve the sounds on their own. I am a collector of vintage synthesizers, so all of the music was composed on these. 

The 12 tracks add up to about two hours of music that can be played by touching the image in various places. The numbers on the image are a decoy, meaning to say that only a couple of numbers play a track. The numbers only correspond to how many tracks there are. So in essence I made a giant mp3 player – one that doesn't fit in your pocket and only has 12 tracks.

What did you enjoy most about working on this project?

When the work finally all comes together at the end it’s the most amazing feeling and probably the best part. We dubbed it “Smart Graffiti” at Ogilvy. Also the creation of each element really is too much fun.  But a lot of the work is preparation. That’s the hard part. The whole piece from start to finish including creating the image, sound and painting took about 14 days. Most of which is careful preparation. 

What do you think of the finished result?

It is exactly how I imagined it to be in my head the first moment I pictured it except for some slight difference in color. It was hard to get exactly what I wanted, but by pure persistence it came out the way it was meant to be. The colours are slightly bolder than the original illustrator image, but that was due to Tokyo not having a great choice of coloured graffiti spray paint. But, I like the bolder colors in this case.