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Jason's Cyberpunk Rabbit Hole

Jason is a visual artist who we invited to Barcelona in March 2020, to play Art in Motion in La Rubia. This is one story from around that time, when I interviewed him...and only published today. Jason didn't start this story with the words, "This'll sound like the intro to a cyberpunk movie." He may as well have.

First night in Tokyo on Jason's Umpteenth visit

They stood out in the alley. He was head and shoulders taller than anyone in sight, and her hair practically glowed in the sea of black-haired locals. The multi-splendored lights slowed on them, casting the night into sharp edges of bright lights and shadows that held promises.

It was Jason's first night in Tokyo, and his tour guide didn't have much more experience than he did. His eagerness glinted.

"Have you heard of these maid cafes?" he said.

"Yes," she said in the tone of a woman resigned, by this point, to nodding along.

"You go in and pay women to talk to you," he said.

"Yes," she said.

"Sounds weird."


"And uncomfortable."


"I don't want to go to one of them."

"White rabbits."

"Have you ever heard of these other ones?"

"Stromboli. Always liked the sound of the word Stromboli."

"They've got these ones with ninja maids in."

"Got a certain ring to it."

"You know, dressed like maids."

"Never tried it, myself--Stromboli."

"But also, dressed like ninjas."

"Probably isn't anything like spumoni, do you think?"

"You know, like maids, but with ninja masks."

"I always get spumoni and Neapolitan mixed up."

"That's sex. Guh."

"Know what? I hate spumoni."

"I want to go see some ninja maids."

"The Swedish word for ice cream is 'glass.' Sort of odd."

"Have you been listening to anything I've been saying?"

She rolled her eyes. "Do you know, I think we can probably find you--"

"Ninja maid!" he shouted, and he pointed over the heads of the few people around.

Down the alley they spotted one: a woman in a maid costume and a ninja mask. The bright, inconsistent lights of the narrow alley flickered on her dark eyes.

It would be too much to say Jason ran after her. He only nearly did.

They pursued the ninja maid up the alley. In a way appropriate to ninjas, she disappeared. In a way appropriate to maids, she did so tidily.

Soon, they saw another. Then a third. They started to suspect they'd found the Famed, If Slightly Hidden, Ninja Maid Cafe District. I imagine a black facade with red accents in the long, sparking-bright alley. This cafe is obvious by its subtlety: lit dimmer, and standing out in the many-splendored LED world of downtown Tokyo.

Between them, Jason and his friend knew five words of Japanese. When they came to the ninja concierge he showed them a menu of services offered by the tidy ninjas within. They gestured at one of the items. It was in Kenji. Of course it was. They didn't know what they picked. They just wanted into the long, low, dim, red and black cafe.

They sat at their table. They got drinks.

Around them the maids moved, sharp shadows in the dim world. In corners, in small groups, talking in rapid Japanese to the few clients there in the middle of the night.

One of them saw the Europeans. She swooped across the room, ready to claim them for herself. Other ninja maids in the cafe had seen them too, but this savvy woman kept waving the others off. She wanted this one for herself.

The words came fast. The mask hid her smiles, if she had any. Jason started to wonder what he'd ordered off the menu of services at the front door.

They kept trying to tell her they didn't understand. But the ninja maid kept talking.

Now for the funny part: Apparently, Jason ordered a conversation with a maid in a maid cafe after all.

The tidy ninja, eventually, got the hint.

She did not, however, have any intention of giving up this client.

Gesturing to Jason and his friend to wait, she hurried away then back. When she came back, she had three pieces of paper. She gave one to Jason, then one to his friend.

She kept one for herself.

She held it up, and she pointed with her eyes. The Europeans held up theirs.

The ninja maid folded her scrap of paper in half. Her dark eyes had a glint in them--she expected something from Jason and his friend. They folded their scraps of paper as well.

After a few minutes, silent except the swishing of paper gaining creases, they discovered the satisfying end of the story.

They learned origami that night from a ninja maid, on a neon-lit night, in the crowded town of Tokyo.

Rabbits and Moving Art

Jason's one of these dudes who grew to feel more improbable as the stories increased in mundaneness. It started with the cyberpunk movie intro. From there I learned about his reasons for being in Japan to begin with. They have to do with going down rabbit holes. That's trade talk in his side hustle's trade for doing research for his side hustle. Eventually he told me what he does to pay the bills, which is run the spider cam that get aerial shots at big concerts, by big I mean Coldplay, Metallica and Beyonce.

After the rest it sounded too realistic and didn't suit him at all.

Then we talked about the reason we're interested in Jason, since all of the rest of that stuff just seems to confuse the issue.

This is why we're interested in Jason. And this is also one of the ways to tell he's probably definitely an android playing out a cyberpunk drama. And we're all side characters in it.

Jason's a bit of a genius with creating digital projection mapping, you see.

It's a way of taking a piece of art and enacting some dark magic on it in a computer. When it comes out the other end of the spell, the piece of art is now something new. It's something that moves and changes, it makes its own light, and it can dance along to the music. It paints or fills strangely-shaped surfaces, and it's no longer only the art that went into the spell. It's mutated into something.

It's done with computers somehow, and Jason's apparently the right kind of technomancer to accomplish it.

You'll see some of his voodoo magic soon, I'm told. For now head over to see Art in Motion - a work in progress, a concept planted in Jason's head by Kristina, aka vj baby k - but look at how wonderfully he executes it-- in Japan, naturally.


Ed.Note: we are publishing this now, in a bid to attract Jason Nuroptics to our fine city when the world opens up a bit more. In March 2020, Jason was slated to do Art in Motion in Barcelona (in La Rubia, actually, but we know what 2020 was like)...Have a look at what Jason Nuroptics is up to now...

Vote for Vessel - A Projection Mapping Pitch by Jason Nuroptics for Genius Loci Weimar in Germany.
Vessels take you on a journey, a journey through time. A boat is a vessel, even a spaceship. These vessels could take you to beautiful amazing places. I have submitted a projection mapping pitch to Genius Loci Weimar for the third time and for its Annual Theme 2021: "True Crime" I submit VESSEL. And this is why. - Jason Telford
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