The best art exhibition currently on in Tokyo is free, open on Mondays, allows picture taking, and is held in one of the most stunningly cool buildings in the metropolis, The National Art Center (国立新美術館). If you’re in the capital, this is the one to see. It feels very good indeed that our tax money is used in a way that is clearly beneficial to the well-being and future of the country.
(click thumbnails for larger images)


Today, at the annual ICS Antique Camera Fair in Matsuya, Ginza this afternoon, I noticed a new addition to the line up of booths: Kawauso Film shop. They are an online retailer offering a large range of black and white and colour films, as well as other goods for do-it-yourself film photography such as developing tanks and chemicals. This is probably the largest range of unusual films I’ve seen offered by any retailer in Japan. Suzuki-san explained to me that the owner is a photographer living in the Shiretoko peninsula, Hokkaido. Orders, however, are shipped from the Kanto area, so delivery charges are not different from what one would expect for Honshu. Here’s a photo of Suzuki-san with the range of films they were exhibiting at the ICS show:

Suzuki-san is also a film photography enthusiast. She explained to me that Croatian-made Efke films have a larger silver content than is common with current black and white films, so the tonal range is exceptionally good. I’ve used 127 format in ISO 100 in the past and found the film has a tendency to curl, but I decided to buy a roll of Efke ISO 50 in 135 and 120 and give it another try.  With enthusiasts like the Kawauso staff and the makers of Efke and Rollei stocks, the future of film photography seems assured. If you have any interest in photography, it is well worth looking at the Kawauso web pages.

Finally here’s this year’s poster for the ICS show, linked from the ICS web pages.

Lee Bul Show @ Mori Art Museum

There is a slideshow of works from the Lee Bul exhibition available at the Mori Art Museum Flickr account. Worth a look, but you really need some background to properly appreciate these works. I used the audio guide while looking at the exhibition. It may help to reflect upon some of the themes which show up in the exhibition:

  • Recent history (post WWII) of the Korean peninsula/Cold War
  • Cyborgs/Genetic Modification/Body augmentation/Prosthetics
  • Evolution/Post-Humanism
  • Modernism/Futurism/Utopia/Totalitarianism
  • Urban Design/Architecture
  • Bruno Taut
  • Performance Art
  • Stinking Blinged Fish
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Personal Karaoke Pods

Best watch the slideshow in full screen mode.



I’m visiting Tokyo for a couple of days to work on an article with a colleague. I’ll also have some time for museum and art gallery visits. First stop: Mori Art Museum in the Roppongi Hills complex, where I caught two shows today, including a major solo exhibition by one of East Asia’s leading contemporary artists, Lee Bul. The show is billed as the “First large scale solo exhibition by Asia’s leading female artist.” I’m not sure whether or not Lee Bul is Asia’s leading female artist. Her artfacts.net ranking is dropping. But her work certainly has great intellectual depth and originality. I may post something separately about the show.

Picture-taking was not allowed inside the Lee Bul show. Here are a few shots taken afterwards.

Spotted in the Mori Art Museum bookshop: Japanese and English catalogues for the recent exhibition on the Metabolist architectural movement, and Rem Koolhaas‘ recent book on the subject. More about this in another future post.

There are some stylishly dressed people in the Mori Arts Museum. I liked this lady’s blue and black colour scheme, to which the photo does no justice.

The plaza outside the Mori Tower has a cosmopolitan atmosphere that recalls parts of Montreal. This Louise Bourgeois spider sculpture contributes to the feeling.

Both Google and Baidu have offices in the Mori Tower, as do Goldman-Sachs and Barclays. Rent must be high and things seem expensive here.

Witnessed earlier in Yuraku-cho on the way to Roppongi from Tokyo station:

After seeing prices in Roppongi Hills complex, it is much easier to understand why everyone is desperate to win the lottery.

Inside Roppongi station, on the Hibiya line. Wherever we go, we’re soon reminded of home.

Siggraph Asia 2012 Web Site uses NIME Images

While checking the web page with instructions for course proposals for Siggraph Asia 2012, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that the Siggraph Asia 2012 page uses images from the course Prof. Sidney Fels and I have been teaching at Siggraph recently.

From left to right:

  • The ReacTable developed in Sergi Jorda‘s group in Barcelona
  • Mari Kimura with Eric Singer‘s Lemur Guitarbot during the concert program of NIME04 in Hamamatsu.
  • Former professional jazz musician turned professional linguistics researcher (and former ATR colleague), Dr. Ichiro Umata, trying out the Mouthesizer, which I developed starting in 2000-2001.
  • Musicians Linda Kaastra and Sachiyo Takahashi playing the Tooka, a collaborative flute developed in Sid Fels’ group. Picture from a performance at NIME05 in Vancouver.

Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but I suspect that what appeals to the organizers of Siggraph Asia 2012 about our images is the suggestion of East-West collaboration and combination of high-tech and high-culture, a mix that seems to suit Singapore, where the conference will be held.


Haruka Mitani (三谷悠華 ) and Moe Hayami (速水萌) at the reception desk.

Mami Ueta (上田真実) answering questions after the screening of her film Setouchi.

Sasagu Ota (太田献) answering questions after the screening of his film Three Minutes of Thought.

Congratulations to everyone on a successful graduation show and thanks for all your effort!


卒展の近所:カフェ マンマミーア

If you need to take a break from the graduation show, this cafe is located about a ten minute walk from T-Joy at Karasuma-Kujo. According to the owner the VW van dates from 1965. It still works and she drives it every day. Only ¥250 for a strong coffee!

Caffe Mammamia
営業時間:13:00-22:00 21:30 LO
Blog: http://mammamia.blog.shinobi.jp/

Singing with your Hands

Currently reported on Gizmodo: friend and collaborator Prof. Sidney Fels, University of British Columbia, and part of his team describe their work on using hand gestures to control speech and singing synthesis. Those interviewed in the video, including Sid, graduate student, Johnty WangProf. Bob Pritchard (School of Music, UBC), professional classical vocalist Marguerite Witvoet are some the people I enjoy hanging out with when I attend the annual NIME conference, which Sid and I co-founded in 2001.

The video contains demos and an excerpt from a vocal performance by Marguerite.