The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lots of Photos

Hi everyone. Well, it was a hell of a September and October. My deep gratitude to everyone who helped in any way, shape, or form. Thanks for helping me get through it.

Without further ado...

A couple weekends ago I went to the Tokyo Design Festa at a convention center called Tokyo Big Sight [sic]. An appropriate place for an art and design show, the building itself is interesting architecturally. I felt it somehow takes inspiration from traditional Japanese building styles, but re-imagines it in steel and glass. Kinda cool, I thought.

It is hard to say what the Design Festa is all about, except that there don't seem to be any real rules. There were a lot of things that I would describe as "whimsical".

One of the really nice things about the show is that, over the course of the weekend, artists were working on things. Not only does it keep them from going crazy with boredom, but I think it is part of the attraction. People enjoy seeing artists at work.

Alongside the weird/graphic/whimsical/un-categorizable stuff, there was quite a lot of traditionally-inspired arts and crafts. Calligraphy was popular, like this fellow's very appealing, chunky style of writing. Samurai-themed stuff was also in abundance.

This guy had built this strange sci-fi mech-looking vehicle, and was driving it around the show. He occasionally let other people (particularly if they were cute, and female) drive it too.


A lot of artists had plain white backdrops and were painting them. If I had've had more patience, I might have tried a few shots spaced out over the course of the day to show the progression from blank wall to finished work ... but alas ...

One young guy caught my eye with his highly-detailed, unique painted sculptures of alien creatures. His stuff really reminds me of Wayne Barlowe's "Guide to Extraterrestrials".

I can't tell you how great it was to go to this event. Everyone was in a great mood, chatting, smiling, and laughing. It sounds terrible to say it (and it will give ammunition to everyone who keeps telling me, "Get out of Japan, already") but it was really weird to see so many happy, friendly Japanese people. When your main interaction with people is on the public transportation, I suppose it is easy to develop a negative view. But here, everyone knew that, at least on some basic level, everyone shared the same interest in art.

As an example, I thought the following scene was funny - mother and young child laughing and playing right beside a painting that seems to be a more depressed companion-piece to "The Scream". They caught me looking so they gave me obligatory "peace sign".

These girls were just posing for photos and giving away bookmarks. I struggled with my Japanese but finally just decided to be blunt and asked them, "So ... what are you selling?" Their answer: "Nothing!" I guess they just like hanging out and having their picture taken. I happily obliged them.

There was a lot of weird-ish stuff, and that tends to get the most attention (for better or worse). I liked this woman's pop-ish pictures of pregnant schoolgirls. I have no idea what they are supposed to mean, but they seemed fun, and combined with her wearing a schoolgirl's outfit ... (No, I don't have a thing for school uniforms, honestly.)

I talked with this girl for a while about her art and its resemblance to "Rat Fink". Neither of us could remember the artist's name, but I looked it up when I got home. Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, of course!

Some stuff just defied categorization. Middle-aged salaryman / schoolgirl hybrid as Buddhist statuary (complete with halo) ... ?

My friend Rob got his portrait drawn by this girl. Her sign is hard to translate without it sounding awkward, but it basically amounts to "I'll draw you but it won't look like you." For a dollar (I think that's how much it was...), who could possibly refuse?

So I talked to more strangers in one day than I have in a year, and saw tons and tons of stuff that I didn't photograph, because I just wanted to spend time enjoying things and not taking pictures of everything. It was a lot of fun - the atmosphere alone guaranteed that I'll be back again.