japanese art, design and culture

Category — Art

The double-sided anime images of Makoto Taniguchi

One side shows a blurry painting resembling a distorted, disturbing face. The other reveals the calm, comforting expression of an anime character. The journey back-and-forth between those images are what make the works of Makoto Taniguchi so special. Only able to see the blurry image at first, one has to move around the mirror to try and get a glimpse of the clear painting on the other side.


The 32-year-old Japanese artist wants viewers to feel lost contemplating his work. By playing on the ever-present faces of anime culture, he explores the mysterious ways in which our mind turns reality into fleeting images

When I try to draw the interior ‘images’ which though invisible to the eye surely do exist, the dazzling brightness and the ephemeral nature of that existence surges forth, and I start to think about my own ideas of ‘existence’ and my views on life

If you are in Tokyo, you can see Taniguchi’s works in his “Untilted” exhibition at Nanzuka Gallery until March, 29th 2014.




Images: public-image.org, White Wall Tokyo, Fudge.jp

March 27, 2014   1 Comment

Dark Lifeless Photos Capture the Future of Tsukiji Fish Market

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These are definitely not your everyday photos of the Tsukiji Fish Market, where – on a typical day – thousands of people bustle with activity, preparing for the 5AM auction where tons of fish and cash will trade hands. But Tokyo-based photographer Bahag de Guzman and writer Erin Emocling accidentally stumbled upon the market when it was closed, and decided to photograph the dark, cold and lifeless venue. However, the fish market, which opened in 1935, will soon resemble Guzman’s photos as Tokyo prepares to relocate the historic site as part of a broader facelift for Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

Emocling puts Bahag’s photos to text:

You’re standing in the middle of this alleyway, living in the present, and you enter the vast and moving world of Tsukiji—a world-famous fish market in the heart of Tokyo that pumps its own blood every waking dawn, an almost 80-year old marketplace that gave sashimi and sushi their tasteful, incomparable meaning to the rest of the world, and, sadly, an old place that is bound to be deconstructed within a number of months from now.

But to those who have Tsukiji as their world, committing these into memories is the only way to immortalize what’s going to be left behind.

What Emocling and Guzman are trying to say, I think, is we’re not only losing a historic site, but also a way of life. You can read the entire photo essay here.

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(thx Erin!)

March 27, 2014   4 Comments

Meguru Yamaguchi Studio Visit

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As we entered the sun-drenched studio in Bushwick an elderly man stood with his back against a wall. A knit cap slouched over his head, a sweater draped over his shoulders and his eyes lay focused on the small turntable in front of him. “This is my Dad,” we were told. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who had come to visit Meguru Yamaguchi, a Brooklyn based artist who has made a name for himself by incorporating modern day technological idiosyncrasies like copy & paste, Instagram and Facebook into his artwork. These contemporary promulgations have a tendency to be viewed as self-indulgent, narcissistic and artificial. And yet, at the core of Meguru’s work – and himself as an artist – we find something that is incredibly pure and honest.

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March 25, 2014   35 Comments

Yayoi Kusama Socks

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The prolific Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is currently participating in Dogo Onsen Art 2014, an art festival taking place at Japan’s most ancient hot springs. As part of the exhibition, Kusama has released a series of limited-edition socks printed with her iconic polka dot patterns. They’re being sold exclusively through SPIRAL and retail for 2,835 – 5,145 yen. They’re available in men’s, women’s and as tights. I don’t think I’ve ever lusted over a pair of socks before.

Kusama has never been shy about turning her art into buyable merchandise. She’s incredibly entrepreneurial. “You go to her studio today, it’s all so full of Kusama product,” says Tate Modern curator Frances Morris. “She’s produced fabric to clothing to mobile phones.”

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source: PEN

March 19, 2014   Comments Off

Altus | photographs that show the beauty of white space

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Altus is a Latin adjective meaning “high, deep, noble or profound.” In a photographic body of work by the same name, Takashi Suzuki presents a series of minimal landscapes that are delicately interrupted by white space.

“In this series, my interest is in interspace and space,” says the artist. He goes on to explain that his work is about the beauty and perception of negative space or margins; even more so than the actual landscapes themselves.
Indeed, normally I would feel annoyed or turned off by such a radical gap in scenery but these photos are incredibly calming. It’s as if the negative space is supposed to be there.

Suzuki’s photos are currently part of the group show “cognition / recognition” in Tokyo that runs through 4/19/2014.


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March 17, 2014   2 Comments

Haptic Green | Captivating photos of trees made from hundreds of small scans



Our perception of color is made possible by cone cells in our eyes. And people with normal vision have 3 cone cell types: red, green blue. Of the 6-7million, about 45% are green, which means our eyes don’t have to work as hard to perceive the color. This also means that green is the most relaxing color to look at.

But the process in which Japanese photographer Naruki Oshima created his “Haptic Green” series as hardly relaxing at all. In fact, the images come together from a complex technical process involving hundreds of smaller elements. The art historian Valérie Douniaux explains:

The process he uses is like a scan: with the camera fixed at a precise point, the artist methodically shoots a series of images starting from the bottom left corner of the frame, up to the top right-hand side. In reassembling the shots, Oshima works meticulously to correct distortions created by the fixed camera angle and to erase overlaps, in order to give the impression of a single image, a single shot…Naruki Oshima redistributes the image’s composing elements, combining close ups with long distance frames, mixing focused with blurred.

Perhaps it’s the delicate balance of calming and complexity that makes this series so intriguing. Oshima’s photos are currently part of the group show “cognition / recognition” in Tokyo that runs through 4/19/2014.





March 15, 2014   Comments Off

Visualizing Radiation | The Form of Fukushima

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Three years ago a devastating earthquake and tsunami took the lives of 18,500 and the homes of 470,000 more. Not only that, it set off terrifying chain of events that crippled a nuclear reactor, leaking radiation into the air, ground and sea. Part of what makes radiation so dangerous is that it’s invisible, rendering it susceptible to misinformation and credibility.

Art student Hiroyuki Gotoh, who has been focusing his artwork on making the invisible, visible, became fascinated with the virality of radiation and decided to base his senior thesis exhibition on this topic. “The Form of Fukushima” (福島の形相) uses a polar graph drawing machine to visualize publicly available data on radiation levels in Fukushima. In a singularly robotic way, a pen endlessly draws on a canvas, creating a graphical portrayal that is at once beautiful, but also frightening.

“The Form of Fukushima” will be on display this weekend at Tama Art University’s graduation work exhibition.

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(this post is part of our review of student artwork from 2014 senior thesis exhibitions. You can see all our coverage of student artwork here)

March 11, 2014   Comments Off

It’s not what it seems | painted food disguised to look like other food



When not creating hyper-realistic body paintings, Tokyo-based artist Hikaru Cho points her paintbrush to ordinary food lying around her house. In a playful series aptly titled “It’s not what it seems,” Choo-san (as she is called) paints over foods like bananas, tomatoes and eggs, creating a brilliant disguise that presents her subjects as entirely different food.



The series is certainly a lot more light-hearted than her recent campaign to raise awareness for sexual exploitation. But aside from being mere eye-candy the series, on a deeper level, encourages us to look beyond what we see on the outer layers as it can be very misleading.



source: junk culture

March 9, 2014   1 Comment

Japanese online community of artists create a single artwork out of 50,000 illustrations

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Even if you live in Japan, unless you’re into manga-style illustrations you’ve probably never heard of Pixiv. The Japanese website was founded in 2007 as an online community of artists. Their user base grew briskly and just last month they surpasses 10 million users. To celebrate the milestone, the team initiated a community project, calling on their users to submit artwork to create a single mega-scale illustration.

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Users could submit 1 piece per day over a 9-day period. The only stipulation was that the illustrations were to be in the shape of ema (絵馬): wooden plaques with pictures and wishes on them that are customarily hung at Shinto shrines. The final artwork would combine all the ema into a single massive ema.

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On February 22, the illustrations began rolling in and by the end of the period the project had received an astounding 52,014 illustrations. The final work, a microcosmic portrayal of the community of artists, looks like a massive universe.

“pixiv currently gets on average 26K submissions per day,” writes* a staff member in a blog post explaining the project. “It’s difficult to actually get a sense for what 26K illustrations look like.” And so the team came up with a way to visualize their entire community of artists.

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source: KAI-YOU

March 6, 2014   Comments Off

My Body My Rights | Evocative body painting by Hikaru Cho


“Cracked Face” | You have the right to live free from rape and sexual violence

The Tokyo-based hyper-realist painter Hikaru Cho has created a striking series of body paintings for Amnesty International. Launched today, ahead of International Woman’s Day, the “My Body My Rights” campaign raises awareness for issues like sexual exploitation and harassment through eerily realistic body paintings.


“The Key” | You have the right to choose if or when, you have children


“The Key” | You have the right to choose if or when, you have children


“Books” | You have the right to know and learn about your body, sexual health and relationships


“The Kiss” | You have the rights to choose your partner

You can watch a time-lapse of all the works being created right here.

Astonishingly, the Tokyo-based artist, who goes by the nickname Choo-san, is just 21 years old. She enrolled in Musashino Art University in 2012 but actively pursued a professional career alongside her studies, creating a popular series of tights, as well as doing commercial work like posters, smartphone apps and character design.

Here is some of her previous work. TO keep up to date with her work you can follow her on twitter or Instagram.




source: @yurikageyama

March 6, 2014   Comments Off