Category — Events
10,000 feet above sea – five months straight – four years in a row. For 600 days Yu Yamauchi lived in a hut near the summit of Mt. Fuji, getting up while it was still dark to photograph the sunrise every day, from the same location. The resulting series, titled “DAWN,” is a stunning look at the colorful, sometimes abstract view of Earth waking up.
This space, “above the clouds,” exists far from the ground where we live our daily lives. It is also a space between the earth and the universe. Being there simply reminds me of the fact that we live on the earth which is a planet within an infinite space of the universe.
What’s perhaps most striking about the series is the variability. Not a single picture looks the same. And yet, each day the sun, rising from the same spot, repeats itself.
This post originally appeared October, 2012. It is part of a series of posts on Mt. Fuji. The entire series can be found HERE.
May 21, 2013 1 Comment
Until 1868 women weren’t allowed to climb Mt. Fuji
A 1000 yen view
Mt. Fuji, as it appears on Japan’s 1000 yen note, is a view from Lake Motosu and is based on a photograph by Koyo Okada, in which he captured Mt. Fuji’s upside down reflection in the lake.
During WWII there was a plan to paint Mt. Fuji red
Although this is somewhat of a rumor, during WWII the CIA briefly considered dropping buckets of red paint on Mt. Fuji as a form of psychological warfare to degrade Japan’s morale. However, a more thorough analysis revealed that it would require 12 tons of paint and roughly 30,000 B29 planes to carry all the paint and the plan was quickly dropped.
The summit of Mt Fuji is not in any prefecture.
Although the mountain itself sits on the boundary between Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, a 1974 Supreme Court ruling stated that all land above station 8 (roughly 400 m2) belongs to a sacred shrine.
In 2008 a Mt. Fuji license plate was released
Due to popular demand, and in an attempt to stimulate the local economy, Shizuoka prefecture created a Mt. Fuji license plate in 2008. It’s available in 6 different districts and has become a collectable for Mt. Fuji aficionados.
Novel transforms Mt. Fuji forest into a hotbed for suicides
Seicho Matsumoto’s 1960 novel “Tower of Waves” (波の塔) detailed the love affair of a woman and prosecutor up until their untimely death at the end when they commit suicide in Aokigahara forest. The deep “sea of trees” had long been associated with spirits but in 1974 a women hung herself with the book, kicking off a sad and terrible spree.
Here’s a good 20-minute documentary about a man who walks the forest trying to prevent people from taking their lives.
There were once plans to build a high speed tunnel to the summit of Mt Fuji
In the 1960s Fuji Kyuko had plans to bore a tunnel through the south-west side of the mountain with a cable car that would take you to the summit in just under 13 minutes. Although the plan was shot down by conservationists, they did have a catchy slogan: to the summit of Mt. Fuji and back in heels.
Little did they know that more than 50 years later Teva would release stiletto high heels for hiking.
Debussy’s La Mer (the sea) was inspired by Mt. Fuji
Claude Debussy’s brilliant orchestral work, La Mer, is so free of traditions and influences that its modernity can still be felt today. Equally timeless was its inspiration, which is said to have come from the compelling force of the contrast between the wave and the mountain in Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave at Kanagawa.
This is a series of posts on Mt. Fuji. All posts can be found HERE.
May 20, 2013 No Comments
This year you can submit entries in 3 categories: Toys, Greeting Cards or Party Wear.
Anything goes, as long as it can be engraved or cut using a laser cutter and you can submit entries starting today through July 15th. There’s a lot at stake including cash prizes and a chance to have your idea sold at FabCafe.
May 15, 2013 No Comments
Collaborating with reMADE, the show will feature (mostly) local designers who are challenging the typical classifications of handmade, which has taken on a much broader, economically competitive definition.
te (手) is the Japanese word for hand. te + te is about the hand of the artist but it also implies the exchange of goods from hand to hand. There are some amazing artists and designers participating: Noriko Kuresumi, Wasara, Takeshi Miyakawa, Nao Matsumoto, Kenzo Minami and Kaori Sohma.
Yes, we’re pulling out the big guns. I’ll be at the reception so hope to see you there!
May 13, 2013 1 Comment
Junichi Arai’s retrospective exhibition at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery presents 60 years of his work as an experimental textile designer. Perhaps most well-known for his collaboration with fashion icon Issey Miyake, Arai’s work is Avant-garde yet stunning.
Multi-colored metallic fabrics are suspended and lit so that they seem to be moving like flames or bursting volcanoes. Major works are suspended from the ceiling and visitors are encouraged to meander through and inspect them at all angles. As I snaked my way through the shimmering fabrics I noticed I could see other visitors but they couldn’t see me, like a gold plated one-way mirror.
The exhibition also presents videos of Arai explaining his methodologies, which combine handcraft weaving and dying techniques with cutting-edge technology. Some of the most interesting pieces were the shibori style textiles where the metallic-coated threads were melted and removed in some parts of the cloth to leave behind sheer, metal-tinged translucent surfaces.
Arai continues to work and experiment with new technologies, and constructed new pieces specifically for this show. I actually caught a glimpse of him while visiting the exhibition and though he is small in stature, he has plenty to say. The exhibition ARAI Junichi: Tradition and Creation closes this Sunday, March 24th. Click here for videos of the exhibition and Arai’s own description of his work (in Japanese).
March 25, 2013 Comments Off
Roppongi Art Night is just one night out of the whole year, time you’d normally spend dreaming under the covers in your own bed, but what if instead Art night found people all in one big bed telling each other their dream?
- Katsuhiko Hibino, Art Director of the 4th edition of Roppongi Art Night
For me, it was the 1st time attending and I didn’t know what to expect. I arrived after sunset in the beating heart of Roppongi among Japanese and foreigners, ready to enjoy the night in one of the many surrounding bars and clubs. Roppongi may be the red-light district of Tokyo, but it’s also a budding center of art and design with the National Art center and Tokyo Midtown, home to the Suntory museum, Design Hub, the Mori museum, PechaKucha refuge, and more. These sites have proved to be valuable spaces for fostering a design-centric community, inspiring artists, designers and thinkers.
Despite all it had going for it, I still wasn’t sure about what I would discover. But I pushed forward as my curiosity about sneaking into a museum at night overcame my fear of disappointment. I stepped in.
“Ah” by Kotaro Sekiguchi made with newspaper and duct tape. An installation in conjunction with the “Design Ah! Exhibition”. Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Justine
photo by flickr user robochick
I was far from disappointed! Invested, transformed, vibrating; I hardly recognized the place and its smooth flow of people mixing with artists, musicians and performers. I quickly gave up following the map and agenda offered to me at the information station. There was too much to see, too much to listen, too much to read. Katsuhiko Hibino – artist and director of Roppongi Art Night – succeeded in constructing an uninterrupted network of experiences, one leading to the other. So I set myself loose in a random itinerary and I never felt lost.
“Shimura Nobuhiro molded one hundred candles from old boots mostly from local residents of Mine, Yamaguchi. The installation uses ordinary materials and imagery to evoke an atmosphere of sedimented time layered with memories of other non-urban lives.”
Recently, art has been splitting in two directions: one way presumes “white cube” museums will show the same exhibitions under the same conditions worldwide, art that remains unaffected by time and place; the other way is site-specific art, where places exert a positive pull on the works and each different encounter becomes important, the exact opposite to what museum try to do. - Katsuhiko Hibino
Roppongi Art Night was just the right illustration of this second kind of art. A kind of art where the spectator is completely integrated. The body is involved and the soul is transformed. Look! Listen! Take! Think! Cry! Dance! Laugh! Here were all the injunctions reaching my head, heart and body.
Early in 2012, Iwai Masaru stayed in the derelict “The White building” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia while shooting a documentary about cleaning the building together with local residents. Projected in three large screens, the white building washing astounds the viewer with its stark realism and ineffable videographic beauty.
The night gathered a breathtaking array of art and performances. Exhibitions, theater, live painting, concerts, knitting in the park… The night resonated with sounds of “great -sugoi!,” “wonderful – subarashii!” and “cute – kawaii!” coming from an excited crowd delighted by the surprises found in their way.
A mandala of “Hibiki” whisky bottles at the Hibiki Art Lounge | photo by flickr user Ryosuke Takeoka
Based on the principle that people convey messages from mouth to ear, Les Souffleurs commandis poétiques was formed by the French actor Olivier Comte in 2001 with his “Declaration of Whispering”. This is an art performance of whispering poetry and philosophy using a long tube called a nightingale. It is an artistic activity to share discovery or inspiration hidden in our daily life with others. Japan-France joint “Souffleurs” is performed in collaboration with Tokyo Theater Company KAZE.
This installation of a watch or compass arrow pointed to the sky, under which entertaining concerts took place, was a great embodiment of the theme of this night: TRIP. “Witness today’s transformation into tomorrow.” I don’t know about transformation but what I do know is this night filled us all with energy to face tomorrow.
Within the space created by Mishima Akiyoshi, the huge arrow will transform - like a balloon about to make a journey, the hand of a tie piece to mark the passage of time, or a needle of a compass indicating the direction of the trip.
March 25, 2013 Comments Off
In an attempt to lure back customers to their department store and shake off what’s been a 16-year decline in shopping, Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku has been renovating each of their floors since 2007. Well the work has finally been completed. And just last week they held an opening ceremony, unveiling their “Fashion Museum” theme of blending art and shopping – a strategy they believe will be the future of retail.
In the spirit of showcasing art, their first installation is a grand one in which they’ve commissioned botanic artist Makoto Azuma to create large-scale frescos that appear throughout the department store. Titled “Collapsible Leaves,” the artist has used thousands of actual leaves and meticulously folded them into various forms that give new life to the plants. But like all his work, the installation is inherently short-lived and will only be on display through March 26, 2013.
Source: Makoto Azuma
March 14, 2013 Comments Off
Husband and wife artist duo Lori Kirkbride and Nao Matsumoto just launched a kickstarter campaign to get their new gallery space up and running. It’s a former knitting factory located in Ridgewood, Queens and they’re trying to have it ready to coincide with the Bushwick Open Studios event (May 31 – June 2) but need one final push to make it happen.
Above: before and after shots of the new lorimoto gallery
Last year we visited Nao Matsumoto in his Brooklyn studio.
March 13, 2013 1 Comment
J-Pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s costumes are on display this month at the Kyary Pamyu Pamuseum, a pop-up exhibition space located in Roppongi Hills. Visitors can rent audio guides, search for clues to solve a riddle, and pose with popular costumes from her music videos and concert tour.
image courtesy Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s blog | click to enlarge
One of Japan’s most visible Harajuku Girls, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s career started as a fashion blogger and model. She launched her music career in 2011 with PonPonPon and Tsukema Tsukeru and can now be seen on product advertisements plastered all over Tokyo. Her most recent single, Fashion Monster, is an adept description of her style.
Was that a shower of alien monster vomit? I think I know how he feels.
Despite the fact the Kyary Pamyu Pamuseum is mostly fluff — I’m talking crinoline skirts and a lack of any real depth — it is amusing nonetheless. I enjoyed the chance for an up-close inspection of Kyary’s avant-garde style and how these garments are constructed. Fans who visit also get the chance to step into their idol’s shoes. Even big girls like to play dress-up once in a while.
March 12, 2013 Comments Off
Bio Media Art currently open at Chiyoda 3331 (through 3/24) is a compact introduction to the BioArt Scene in Japan. The line between Art and Science is hazy; Artists create – so do Scientists, both research and experiment, gather, present and analyze: both can seem obscure to the man on the street.
So what exactly is Bio Media Art? Perhaps one of the biggest questions is whether BioArt is Art that uses biotechnology and living tissues as materials or whether the inclusion of work that borrows from the imagery and language of science can be considered BioArt? This exhibition is more of the latter as the inclusion of the word Media suggests. Perhaps one of the most recognizable and controversial images of “BioArt” is Eduardo Kac’s piece “Alba” – a rabbit which was implanted with a jellyfish gene GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) that made it glow green under certain light. For some critics, the idea of using animals and altering them for the sake of Art is unethical. Controversy still surrounds the idea of using living tissue for Science or Art – but for Scientists there is some debate over what matter actually is considered to be alive.
Left: “Suzu” by Mihara Soichiro | Right: “Kinetic DNA” by Shiro Takahashi
“Impulse” by Juan Manuel Castro
Colombian born but Tokyo based BioArtist Juan Manuel Castro shows impulse (above) – organic micro structures (lipid membranes) that form flexible bio architectures. Developed with Dr Taro Toyota of the University of Tokyo. His installation contains a microscope and various equipment that sit next to a projection of the structures. Speaking to Castro he said “ I am very interested in the possibilities of bio architectures – for me these cells are very beautiful and people do not realize how much beauty there is in nature already, I want to show them”.
Bio Media Art is subtler in its approach. The small show is nestled in the corner of the second floor of the multi faceted Arts Center and has been organized with Tama Art University in conjunction with the Tokyo based Iwasaki lab and Metaphorest who hosted the “Godfather” of BioArt – Joe Davis, in 2011. Students exhibit alongside artists such as Waseda University professor and artist Hideo Iwasaki the founder of the Iwasaki Lab and the work is a mix of the conceptual and the visceral.
Iwasaki developed his work Biogenic Timestamp: Prototype 2.0 with Oron Catts – it shows the cycle of cyanobacteria, exhibited in a clear glass box, and projected onto the wall we can see one of the earliest forms of life. The bacteria interacts and decomposes within a set of circuitry, here the beginnings of life and the physicality of technology form a new, changing eco-system and an image of the past and the future.
Other work feature scientific methodologies with a twist – Kirilian photography capturing the beauty of the shape and form of leaves and water (Wataru Yamamoto 光の葉 /The Light of leaves), Scientific looking drawings document imaginary synthesized plants (Keira Akiyama – Acoustic Botany) seeds make plates (Hana Saito Seed Dish ) and in the corner a small fusen (Soichiro Mihara – Suzu) is connected to a Geiger counter chiming now and then – a reminder of the still unresolved Fukushima nuclear situation.
If you are expecting Stelarc like performances then the show might not quite be what you are expecting. Japan is at the forefront of many technological developments and this is still quite a new field. The show gives you a good idea of what is happening in Japanese Art Science departments and opens up a space for dialogue – biotechnology and media are here to stay – are we ready for them?
March 11, 2013 Comments Off