Tokyo Designers Week 2014 Photo Report

Written by: Japan Trends on November 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Japan’s biggest design showcase Tokyo Designers Week (TDW) landed again for the year in the Gaienmae Aoyama area.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos

We went along to check out the exhibits. Here are our highlights.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos

tokyo designers week 2014 photos chintai asami kiyokawa

Real estate company Chintai are a regular face at TDW. Here they created a “Tokyo Merry-Go-Round” with artist Asami Kiyokawa.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos clappy pachi pachi

At the Robot Exhibition we liked this “clapping robot”, a kind of large version of the Pachi Pachi Clappy. Maywa Denki also participated in this part of TDW, showing off their latest instrument toy, Mr Knocky.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos noriko yamaguchi keitai girl suit

This was more mysterious. Artist and digital sculptor Noriko Yamaguchi created the “Keitai Girl Suit Chi”, whose entire body is covered in cellphone (keitai) keypads. It was a contemplation on how touch is still important to communication.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos asuna android a-lab uncanny valley receptionist

Here we entered the Uncanny Valley. The android Asuna was a “receptionist” created by A-Lab.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos toyo ink co shintaro kago manga stickers

tokyo designers week 2014 photos shintaro kago manga stickers

This booth was very popular, a manga sticker world presented by Toyo Ink and manga-ka Shintaro Kago.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos kengo kuma dnp tree metal

DNP and Kengo Kuma teamed up with technology that allows you to print directly onto a tree, fusing the texture of metal with wood and promising a “new materiality”.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos tanjo no katachi nihon university

The outdoor schools section featured this “Tanjo no Katachi” by Nihon University, a primitive representation of form itself.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos sebastian masuda container

Staying outside, these kids seemed to love this container installation designed by Sebastian Masuda (an art director for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu).

tokyo designers week 2014 photos hokusai exhibition

It wasn’t all “new” stuff, though. A special pavilion was devoted to the work of Edo-era ukiyoe print artist Hokusai.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos hokusai digital interaction

Here the Hokusai prints came into digital life. Using a special interactive app, holding up your phone brought the flat images into colorful life on your mobile screen.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos shiori yano mothers mountain

Shiori Yano’s “MOTHERS MOUNTAIN” bottled up motifs of street culture.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos sato sugamoto fashion non-verbal communication

Finally, Sato Sugamoto’s “Non-Verbal Communication” shows two “hats of thought” of two people meeting and trying to communicate.

budda

Tags: , ,
Category: CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION
Other categories: LIFESTYLE

Photographer Matthew Pillsbury shoots Tokyo in long-exposure glory

Written by: William on October 6, 2014 at 8:20 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Tokyo is a city that is a paradise to photographers; it opens up just so many opportunities for images — the technology, lights, crowds, fashion, subcultures, architecture, businessmen, seasons, festivals… We would venture that Japan has been responsible for more Flickr accounts that any other “source materials” but of course, we may be wrong there.

And so with such competition out there competing for eyeball space, it takes a project with something special to stand out. And while there are legions of talented photographers — local or expat — resident in the city, perhaps Matthew Pillsbury succeeded because he’s an outsider — he’d only come to Tokyo once before he started creating the images for his new show, aptly titled “Tokyo”, showing at Benrubi Gallery in New York until October 25th.

matthew phillsbury tokyo long exposure photography

“The growing use of technology in our lives has simultaneously allowed for instantaneous global communication, but it also can isolate us by favoring virtual contact as opposed to real-world interaction,” he told Slate.

While making his epic long-exposure shots of various locations throughout the city he ran into classic Japanese bureaucracy, which made getting permission to shoot in some places difficult. Shoots at some locations, such as a sumo tournament, ultimately did not work out because the management would not allow him in. We would have loved to see a long-exposure sumo bout!

matthew phillsbury tokyo long exposure photography

matthew phillsbury tokyo long exposure photography

matthew phillsbury tokyo long exposure photography

Phillsbury usually works in color but we can certainly see why he broke his own rule for this series.

How many of the places in the photographs do you recognize?

matthew phillsbury tokyo long exposure photography

matthew phillsbury tokyo long exposure photography

matthew phillsbury tokyo long exposure photography

matthew phillsbury tokyo long exposure photography

matthew phillsbury tokyo long exposure photography

matthew phillsbury tokyo long exposure photography

budda

Tags: ,
Category: LIFESTYLE
Other categories: CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION

How to Use Shibaura House: A video guide to the designer Tokyo community space

Written by: William on September 30, 2014 at 8:21 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Shibaura House is a community space in the Tokyo district of Shibaura, a neighborhood in the south of the city near the port. The stylish glass building is designed by Kazuyo Sejima and hosts private functions, as well as regular workshops and art events.

shibaura house kazuyo sejima community space tokyo workshops

Sometimes these can be creative events for kids, dance workshops, yoga lessons, cooking and food events, and more. Check the Shibaura House Facebook page for photos from past events.

shibaura house kazuyo sejima community space tokyo workshops

When the center first opened in 2011 its translucent architecture attracted quite a bit of gushing from the likes of Design Boom et al. Arc Space compared the building to a Japanese paper lantern: “Public and private programs interweave in this cunning, white-clad amalgamation of boxy geometric volumes and playful curves… The most luxurious thing about Shibaura House is the spaciousness of its rooms in a city notorious for its exorbitant land prices. This is architecture far more down to earth, stripped down and pragmatic, yet with a playfulness instigated by the rounded shapes and shifting heights of its interior and semi-interior spaces.”

shibaura house kazuyo sejima community space tokyo workshops

Earlier this year Shibaura House published a series of illustrated bilingual “Kanto Tour Guides” with the help of 10 foreigners (why only foreigners, we’re not sure). Contributors included Lucas Badtke-Berkow, Jean Snow, Vivian Morelli, and Jared Braiterman.

shibaura house kanto tour guides

It also recently produced this funny English-language video introducing its facility and services.

how to use shibaura house

The presenter is “Charlie”, who for reasons unknown does the whole video in a top hat.

While casual visitors are perhaps unlikely to be passing through the business district of Shibaura (though a walk by the canals is nice), do pop in if you are nearby. Shibaura House has a free ground-floor space open to the public and which also has wi-fi. There is also a library with many books about architecture (of course!) and the staff can speak English. Oh, and a cup of coffee only costs ¥100.

tissuebox

Tags: ,
Category: LIFESTYLE
Other categories: CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION

BCTION sees 70 artists occupy Tokyo building before demolition, turn it into art installation

Written by: William on September 22, 2014 at 9:15 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

A major trend in the Tokyo art world over the past few years has been the temporary “art-jacking” of old buildings and facilities just before they are scheduled to be knocked down.

This was a major success at the former French Embassy, which allowed artists to take over every corner of its old premises for the extravaganza that was “No Man’s Land” back in 2009 and 2010.

Trans Art Tokyo, whose current edition is running now, has been transforming old (and some new) buildings in the Kanda neighborhood with various art exhibits and events. This year includes a flying whale! The publisher Shogakukan also invited people to graffiti its walls as a tribute to its manga output over the years shortly before its building was pulled down.

This also extends to reclaiming the buildings on a permanent basis, such as the case with 3331 Arts Chiyoda, a former school that is now one of the capital’s premier art centers.

bction tokyo kojimachi building art event installation demolish occupy

In BCTION some seventy artists and artist gropus have taken over all nine floors of a building in Kojimachi, central Tokyo, and turned the whole thing into a big installation shortly before it is going to be demolished.

bction tokyo kojimachi building art event installation demolish occupy

bction tokyo kojimachi building art event installation demolish occupy

bction tokyo kojimachi building art event installation demolish occupy

bction tokyo kojimachi building art event installation demolish occupy

bction tokyo kojimachi building art event installation demolish occupy

bction tokyo kojimachi building art event installation demolish occupy

bction tokyo kojimachi building art event installation demolish occupy

Increasing the sense of this being a secret event, visitation is by reservation only. Work on the installations began in August and then the main exhibition was for the first half of September. However, some events and “encore” exhibits are being held at the end of the month.

The main disadvantage to this is that BCTION has gone under the radar somewhat and did not get as much coverage as other similar art-squatting events in the past, which is a shame as the events and exhibits (so far) looked impressive.

bction tokyo kojimachi building art event installation demolish occupy

bction tokyo kojimachi building art event installation demolish occupy

As the 2020 Olympics loom and bring with it a bonanza of new development works, many old buildings and districts will be making way for shiny new venues. While in limbo awaiting their fates, the spaces open up exciting opportunities for artists and designers.

penlight

Tags:
Category: CULTURE
Other categories: LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION

Geisai: Tokyo University of the Arts’ incredible student festival

Written by: William on September 15, 2014 at 9:56 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Being the season of the rice harvest, at this time of year there are lots of traditional festivals around Japan. Just this weekend (a long three-day holiday weekend) we saw several portable shrines (omikoshi) around Meguro and even in the heart of Shibuya.

But every year in early September there’s another kind of festival hosted by students from Tokyo University of the Arts, one that is part art carnival though with plenty of nods to the same modus operandi of a traditional Japanese matsuri.

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

It’s called Geisai (“Gei” means “arts” and comes from Geidai, the nickname for the college, while “sai” means festival) and the three-day festival always features elaborate (and huge) floats that show off the students’ creative talents. There are also performances and music during the festival, with the events happening at the main campus but also spilling out into the streets of nearby Ueno.

The students compete to see which team has the best float as they parade them around, wearing colorful clothes that sort of resemble the usual garb that shrine-bearers at festivals usually wear, with some extra flourishes.

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

This tiger float was the winning entry in the festival. The mouth is amazingly well made.

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

geisai tokyo university of the arts student festival floats

God knows what they do with the giant floats after the festival is over, though.

Also check out Tokyo Art Beat’s photo report on a Geisai event a few years ago.

[Images via NetGeek.biz]

jts_may2013

Tags:
Category: CULTURE
Other categories: LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION

Infinity of Flowers: teamLab and Gucci create interactive digital floral installation

Written by: William on September 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

teamLab has got together with Gucci to create “Infinity of Flowers”, an interactive digital installation at the Gucci Shinjuku store from September 13th.

Visitors will be able to “touch” the flowers on the screen and see them bloom, scatter, grow and wither. The installation using a computer program to “paint” the flowers in realtime on the screen. The imagery on the display is created spontaneously by the system. We look forward to the video that will surely be made.

teamlab gucci infinity of flowers digital installation shinjuku japan tokyo

There will also be a teamLab work in display in the 8-meter window that faces Shinjuku-dori.

teamLab is an award-winning group of “ultra-technologists” working with digital experiential media. Its previous projects include a remarkable high school musical, an amazing digital mural of Tokyo at the Skytree, smart clothes hangers in a department store in Shibuya, and many more. This Shadow Dance and Shadowgraph video from early 2011 was a hit, not least because it seemed to adhere to everything we love about Japan — samurai swords and technology!

teamLab already has a florally-themed installation, “Time-blossoming Flowers”, at the new KITTE department store in Marunouchi.

team lab flower installation kitte tokyo marunouchi

They have a new permanent installation, “Vortex of Water Particles”, at Narita Airport’s Terminal 1 North Wing (joining their other installation at the South Wing that started last year).

“Infinity of Flowers” will run from September 13th to September 28th at the third-floor event space at Gucci Shinjuku. Entry is free.

cat_tights

Tags: , ,
Category: CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION
Other categories: LIFESTYLE

“Toy Tokyo” explores Japan’s capital city in blurry, lo-fi photography

Written by: William on September 8, 2014 at 10:23 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

“Toy Tokyo” is a new photography book by Manami Okazaki, a collection of 26 interviews and images.

New from Kingyo Books, “Toy Tokyo” features “the work of several photographers who are either from, or are shooting in Japan. While generic, commercial, travel photography based on stock has become the norm, ‘Toy Tokyo’ captures the exhilaration of travel photography and life on the road, in one of the world’s most intense locations.”

toy tokyo manami okazaki photography book

Photographers included in the book are: Frederic LeBain, Takeshi Suga, Cory Lum, Taiju Fubuki, Yusuke Abico, Genqui Numata, Hodachrome, Jorge Sato, Michael Feather, Katherine Oktober Matthews, Leo Berne, Kevin Meredith, Tommy Oshima, GHST WORLD, Kevin Meredith, Rei Sato, Paolo Patrizi, Sean Lotman, Jorge Sato, Remo Camerota, Michael Lyons, Martin Cheung, and Naga.Design by Cakefortiger.

toy tokyo manami okazaki photography book jorge sato

toy tokyo manami okazaki photography book taiju fubuki

You can read comments from some of the contributing lo-fi photographers over on GUP Magazine.

For example, here is what Michael Feather (responsible for the image below) says: “The reason I went with the pinhole is partly because commercial work is mostly digital, so to get away from that aspect, and with digital now, and iPhone and smart phones, we can shoot anything any time and stick a filter on it. You are playing around. You don’t start out with an actual vision, you just snap away. Whereas, when you start using something like a pinhole, with film, you start to think about what you are doing. You have made a conscious decision at the start.”

toy tokyo manami okazaki photography book michael feather

toy tokyo manami okazaki photography book sean lotman

“Toy Tokyo” is promised as the first in a series of location-specific toy camera photography books. It is available for $30 from Kingyo Books.

Australia-born Okazaki is the author of other coffee table books like “Kimono Now”, “Wabori” (on traditional Japanese tattoos) and “Kicks Japan” (about street culture and sneakers).

auto_mee

Tags: , ,
Category: CULTURE, LIFESTYLE
Other categories: PRODUCT INNOVATION

Biwako Biennale 2014 Utakata, a site-specific art festival beside Japan’s largest lake

Written by: William on September 1, 2014 at 9:57 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Biwako Biennale 2014 kicks off on September 13th, running until November 9th in a small city along the edge of Japan’s largest lake in Shiga Prefecture.

biwako biennale 2014 utakata

biwako biennale 2014 noda sachie

This sixth edition of the festival features more than 70 artists or artist groups exhibiting site-specific work in 12 old houses in Omihachiman.

The theme this year is “Utakata”, which means foam or bubble. This ethereal beauty is the key motif in the line-up, with contributions from the likes of photographer Rinko Kawauchi, “flower arrangement car” artist Yuji Ueno, sculptor Masato Tanaka (pictured below), and more.

biwako biennale 2014 masato tanaka

Here are grotesque Kokeshi-esque sculptures by Miki Sachiko.

biwako biennale 2014 miki sachiko

The first Biwako Biennale was held in 2001. Passes for the 2014 festival cost ¥2,000 for adults.

biwako biennale 2014 makoto ofune

biwako biennale 2014 mika aoki

A preview event was recently held at a Konno Hachiman-gu shrine in Shibuya, including a special dance performance by Tarinainanika (Kentaro Suyama & Tania Coke).

biwako biennale 2014 tarinainanika

Omihachiman is a roughly 30-minute train ride from Kyoto. The two-month will also include a symposium, workshops and live events.

auto_mee

Tags:
Category: CULTURE
Other categories: LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION

Gay Japanese photographer Ryudai Takano’s “obscene” artworks censored by police

Written by: William on August 14, 2014 at 11:27 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Local police in Nagoya have demanded that the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art remove 12 artworks by Ryudai Takano that depicted male genitalia.

As first reported by Art Info, the action came after members of the public claimed some of Takano’s artworks were “obscene”.

Takano, who is openly gay, is taking part in the group show, “Photography Will Be”, which includes 150 photography and film exhibits by nine major Japanese photographers.

ryudai takano gay japanese photographer censor police artworks nagoya exhibition cover up

The museum has not complied with the police but instead proposed to cover up the “offensive” exhibits with a kind of veil.

Takano, no doubt aware that you should only pick the fights you can win, agreed to the museum’s idea. “These photos express the subtle, delicate sense of distance when one person touches another. There is no violence here. Instead of concealing this intervention made by the public authorities, I wanted to make it visible.”

In Japan, the depiction of genitalia is ostensibly taboo, as dictated by the conventional interpretation of a law introduced when Japan was westernizing and attempting to imitate the “morality” of Europe and America. This is why pornography is pixellated and why typically even mainstream films have scenes with full-frontal nudity similarly obscured. The latter has eased recently for scenes that are obviously comedic in tone.

ryudai takano gay japanese photographer censor police artworks nagoya exhibition cover up

Freedom of expression in art is not protected in Japan, despite the immense flourishing of creativity in all fields and concomitant strength of cultural industries like cinema and publishing.

However, there are double standards. When there was a vogue for “hair nude” photo books — i.e. full-frontal, non-censored photography — a few years ago, there were no issues preventing the major release of books featuring the likes of Rie Miyazawa and other famous actresses au naturel. Photographers like Kishin Shinoyama who have stuck to depicting women, especially celebrities, fully nude have usually be able to escape the censor.

But if you are a female artist or gay male, it’s a different matter. The arrest of Megumi Igarashi (Rokudenshi-ko) in July sparked worldwide attention, not least because her “crime” was to turn her genitalia into digital data that could be distributed. Igarashi was practically unknown at the time but has since rocketed to fame. However, even being established in your field does not guarantee protection. Gay Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee, well used to shooting stars for major contracts, found himself in trouble with the police for showing male genitalia in a Tokyo gallery. He was arrested, along with his gallerist and publisher.

And yet Japan has one of the largest porn and adult industries in the world, stores like Condomania prominently and proudly stand on Omotesando, and sex toy brands like Tenga are now known across the globe. Isn’t this missing the woods for the trees?

Censorship and police crackdowns are nothing new. Back in the 1960′s and 1970′s artists would find themselves in the dock for depicting sex or nudity. The most notorious cases are the obscenity trials for the films “Black Snow” by Tetsuji Takechi and “In the Realm of the Senses” by Nagisa Oshima.

But as the late Oshima defiantly said in court: “Nothing that is expressed is obscene. What is obscene is what is hidden.”

“Photography Will Be” runs, in its censored form, until September 28th.

auto_mee

Tags: , , ,
Category: CULTURE
Other categories: LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION

Next Page »



Japan Trend Blog