Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Was it better than sex?

Last night we attended Pecha Kucha. This is common knowledge to just about everyone who reads this. So what did I enjoy?

The izat was awesome, though i don't quite understand the circumstances of use. Is it something you wear in anticipation of a natural disaster? I dunno. However I did like the fact that the silhouette was very Japanese. I just wish they spoke English because I was gonna do everything humanly possible to get a job with them.

OK, so the performance artist was amazing! I was really impressed with him, well dressed. Looks like a typical salaryman but has a very interesting hoby. I enjoyed the simplicity of his performance piece and repetition made it exciting. It was just plain funny and fun.

I also like the woman who did the photography with the bright colored lights. I thought that maybe she could make a few bucks doing a children' TV show.
P.S> I think the izat could be as good sex. Depending on the sex, the izat could be better?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Kyoto trip


How great it was to escape the sky scrapers, if even just for a few short days! I was surprised by Kyoto. I thought it was going to be this ancient abandoned city in the midst of the country side. This was far from the truth.

What did I like best about Kyoto? Hmmm...what didn't I like? I enjoyed every place we visited. I think my fav was the "Buddhist lunch," Hall of 1000 Buddhas, and the Jakuchu exhibit was breath taking. Oh and I must mention the arcade. It had great shops!

I would like to thank the people who made the trip possible. It was very well planned . I came home with much more money in my pocket than I was expecting!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Focusing the lens: project refinement

Today I met Ron in the classroom to discuss options for my audio piece but my concept wasn't quite hammered out. I think I got some good suggestions from the class discussion yesterday. Don't let it get boring. That was definitely a fear of mine. Ron suggested doing a videography of the walk from point A to point B but I think that's almost too literal. I like the idea of starting from a train station and branching out to another place that was very different. But I was struggling with the theme. Is this gonna be a piece about "trad vs mod" "public vs private" "busy vs quiet?" Hm to many options.

Luckily, I ran into another student "ken" who was familiar with the minato-ku neighborhood. I explained my ideas and he suggested a great spot not too far from my original block. Helen and I checked it out and here it is:

It's a little park that sits atop a hill and it's got some great features.

This reminds me of zen rock garden. These benches look traditional, perhaps they're for meditation?

This plastic hut pays homage to the naive peoples of the area.

Plastic peoples.

Fenced in flower garden is open on Sundays.


Path through the flower bed.

Considering this discovering, I could begin my journey from Tamachi station and walk to the park and end in the flowerbed. Im not sure if I want to work with "old vs new." If so it would be easy to compare technically advanced city with the naive people inside the plastic hut. Maybe I should do "busy vs quiet" and move from the chaotic station near a 6 lane expressway to a peaceful park with a narrow dirt path through flowers.

I'm a little concerned because parts of this idea now remind me of the animation that a student did previously. However I don't think that means I can't use what I have. It may have a similar theme but once I begin to create my book and sound piece, it will be evident that the two are not related.

I'm also considering a new format. My project is about making a journey and following a path. It reminds me of a treasure hunt or a pirate with a treasure map. Also those ancient Japanese scrolls come to mind, the ones that you hold in both hands and wind so the story progresses. I'm not sure what you think. We will have to discuss it in class.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Project Execution

I've decided to make a book using InDesign. Since my topic is pathways I will chose a shape that is leading. I will make one side of my book twice as long as the other. This long narrow rectangle represents path.

For the interactive portion. I will make a soundtrack of my walk through the neighborhood. I thought that this sound track could correspond with a diagram of the neighborhood that runs along the bottom of each page of the book (becoming it's own separate narrative). I this way, as the reader flips through the book, he is following my visual trail and hearing the sounds from that area of the block.

I could display this work in the gallery by designing a path/ representation of the neighborhood in a large scale print-out that is plaster on the wall. The path ends at my book which is standing on a small self on the wall. The front of the book corresponds with the path on the wall so that it looks as if the path naturally bleeds into my book. In the background the soundtrack of my path through the neighborhood will be playing.

Project Concepts

I'll be completely honest. I came to Tokyo for the fashion. I love the magazine "Fruits," and wrote my Japanese history paper on Tokyo style. Living in a new city for a week, I've been most preoccupied with the basic navigation of the city (for the purpose of survival). I found this so intriguing. There's no plazas, no street names. Throw away your western logic! I remember my first night walking down the streets of Ontakesan, cars, motorcycles, bikes, swerve past pedestrians. There were no "sidewalk." Just chaos.

I've now been living here for a over a week and just starting to understand how to maneuver about this city. Stand to the left. Watch out for the bikers lane on the pedestrian crosswalk.
Don't look for a crosswalk look for a for a bridge to cross a major street. Speed limits are posted on the pavement instead of a sign. I catch my self analyzing new symbols, colors, and markings struggling to decipher their meanings as I pass.

After reading Walking in Tokyo I could completely relate to Richie's descriptions.

"...signs everywhere all of them shouting semiotic babble, signifiers galore, all reaching out to
the walker.

...the streets of Tokyo are crooked and twisted.

...And the streets are narrow-all too narrow if it is one where cars are permitted. And there are little alley ways just big enough for one person . And there are things to look at!"

So being excited by the streets and alleys, markings, and signage. I chose a block of Minato-ku and began to study the "language of a pathways."

Public Pathways

This is my focus area of Minto-ku. It is mostly residential with a few busy streets. I think I may begin my project studying pathways in the broadest since. A map with roads, trains, or rivers marks a passage through land.

Blue line above: River- pathway for water.

Here is a close-up of one of the widest of those lines. You can see that this pathway is just pathways within a pathway.

Pedestrian pathway over a busy street.

Pedestrian path Juxaposed with bike path.

Symbols explain how to use pathways.

Varying road width: pathway for people and automobiles.

Paths for the visually impaired:
This could be the single most reason why i find this topic so interesting. You can't help but notice the yellow tiles connect the city. I remember reading about this phenomenon while researching for a project involving navigation for the visually impaired.

Private Pathways

I love this section because I think it's the most personal. Richie talks about Japanese streets as being very public, and in contrast Japanese homes are very private. I love some of these shots. I felt a little bit like a voyeur, but I cherish these images most because they are not uniform and stale like the yellow tiles. The spaces between homes and the narrow alleys, differ the most from American neighborhood I'm used to.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Richie Readings- My reaction to a lateral view

Tokyo the Impermanent Capital

Richie states that Westerns believe that Tokyo is chaotic and primitive. You can see why, I have already stated some reasons above. I was shocked to see that Richie also had the same reactions as I did. Walking down the street of my neighborhood, I feel like I was walking through a movie set. The streets are too clean, the homes and yards are too perfect. Shopping in Leforte makes me feel like I'm walking past shadow boxes or dioramas.

Another one of my favorite concepts is this:
...these extremely contemporary looking structures are like the tents of the nomads-with the difference that the Japanese move not in space, but time.

Woa, Richie...this one is heavy, but well understood. Take a random block in minato-ku and you can see the journey from wooden home with tile roof, to space age looking condos.

Richie calls into question the sophistication of the western city. Does it make sense to place shopping districts in suburbs and provide little or no public transportation? This is so true! I've wondered about this logic myself.

The Real Disney Land

I was shocked to know that there was a Disneyland just outside of Tokyo. I've always wanted to go to Disneyland but being from New York, it was so far from home. My first reaction was to hop on train and shoot out there before I have second thoughts. Too late! I thought to myself , "why would I need to go to Disneyland? I'm in Tokyo. There's alot more to see here! Experiencing this city an opportunity of a lifetime."
Now that I think about it, it's not surprising to me that Japan imported Disneyland. They've imported bits of western and asian culture and this is no different. Also I read that the Japanese embrace childhood and immortalize it.
Richie makes a great point that Japan values to concept of "microcosm." You can see it in architecture (blend of east and west in street block), the microchip, and the bonzi tree - existing in it's miniature world.
Oh! and the home of Kitsch. I always kinda thought that about Japan. Blame it on Godzilla! The Harajuku girls dress kitschy- at least in my opinion. But I think that Japan gets the liberty to be the "kingdom of kitsch." Like we have mentioned before, Japan (or at least Tokyo) is this strange blend of eastern and western cultures. Finding the right balance is tough, and there is potential to go overboard.

the City Home

The title of this article is very appropriate. When you consider the Japanese view of a house (place where you sleep) and the busy schedule of the salaryman, one can begin to see how many Japanese adopt a second or third "home."
Space is definitely a luxury. I just noticed that some houses have "stackable parking" so you can park a car and then raise the car. Then park another car underneath that car. wow. Space is limited. But in it's absence , the Japanese have devised some wonderful ways to cope.
I read this article a while ago and it's been bothering ever since. The article was written in 1980, but I wonder if most women are still chained to the home? Or are there more career women now then ever before? I thought about this on the train the other day when I was sitting across from a bunch of school girls. "what's the point of them getting an education if they're just gonna stay home?"
Walking home from the train station I realized how much I appreciate my neighborhood. I love passing by outdoor markets and Mom&Pop shops. I noticed that I also have developed a routine, get off the train, pop into the grocery store. I can see how people can develop friendships with their neighbors and become "loyal" to their local market. Richie says it's been this way since the days of Edo. I wish my hometown was like this.

Walking in Tokyo

I remember reading this article just last week and thinking to myself, "Wow, I can't wait to experience all of this!" And here I am. Donald Richie is right, there is so much too see!

When I was first let loose in this city, I struggled to understand the logic. There were no street names. narrow roads tangled around buildings. People and cars occupied the same space. The signage is a mass of unidentifiable visual confusion. At first glace , it was complete chaos.

I also marvelled at the difference from building to building. This is perhaps one of my favorite facts that Richie mentions. He explains unlike our western perspective-BUILD IT TO LAST, the Japanese seem to "build for the season," They don't need to dwell on the past, but look to the future. that is why they constantly tear down old buildings to make way for something new.

Richie closes this article by comparing old Edo to Tokyo. He illustrates that even though Tokyo shops now display new fangled gadgets and more, people stroll through the streets the same way they did many years ago.
On Sundays people take time to look at shops and enjoy the sights.

Tokyo Style

Ha. This title was misleading. I was expecting Harajuku girls! Tokyo style is all about contrast. The east and west. The traditional and the modern. It's obvious that Tokyo is modern, and probably the MOST modern city in the world, im not gonna elaborate. Yet I do enjoy the mod, modern, modular section. Traditionally Japanese style was modular-tami mats sliding shoji doors. It's great to see that carried through into modern design-prefab housing etc.
I was inspired when I read the section about how the Japanese city is always in transition. I wish American cities weren't afraid to knock down old buildings. It almost seems stupid that some of them still exists, and maybe only for the purpose of explaining our history. Take your average townhouse in Philadelphia. Probably built in the 1800's. Tall and narrow, maybe a slightly larger footprint than Japanese homes. If only were willing to part with just one, we might find that in the same amount of space, we could have an modern functional structure for living. What good are 14ft ceilings anyway? That's not luxury. It's exuberant! And while we are at it, lets do something about those narrow alleys too small for cars- just big enough for carriages. Just because Ben Franklin didn't drive an SUV, doesn't mean we can't adapt the city to meet the demands of today's lifestyle.

Signs and Symbols

I heart semiotics. I walk through the streets of Tokyo not having a clue what most of the signage means but I appreciate that. It's actually one of the reason's why I chose to come here. I want to see how well Japanese symbols, pictograms, and signage can communicate a message to someone who doesn't speak the language. If symbols can do that, you know they are truly intuitive and successful. Richie explains how foreigners begin analyze and understand the signage. Grouping signs by color, shape, and location. He also mentions how traditionally the Japanese intended signage to not only be function but beautiful. So even advertisements become public art.
Even audio cues are created to be pleasant. I noticed this tradition is alive and well every time I exit the train, or turn on the rice cooker. Where Americans insert a "BEEP" to indicate your popcorn is done, the Japanese have substituted a sound for a melody. And why not? Everyone likes music.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


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