A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about art

Last of Japan, first of Korea

rain 63 °F

Robin and Michele took off on Tuesday, and so I had Wednesday to do a little more exploring in Tokyo.

I spent the day at the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art, which has a pretty nice collection of Western art and Japanese art dating from the 20th century on. I particularly liked this Braque.

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Here are a couple of pieces by Japanese artists. This is Kazuma Oda in 1916 contrasting s new skyscraper with the traditional Japan.

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On the other hand, here is a screen by Kokei Kobayashi that celebrates a Western import, corn, in a traditional Japanese medium.

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I also visited the Tokyo Craft Museum which had a special exhibition on celadon pottery which had some amazing modern craftsmanship as well as some quite ancient pieces. There were three vases in essentially the same shape, one from the 13th century and two modern reinterpretations; they are nearly identical but I kind of liked the old one best; it had just a bit of variation in glaze that seemed more natural. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed so no pix.

I wrapped up the day with a final sushi meal. By popular demand (i.e. one comment) here's a picture (by the way, this cost $15 - not bad!

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Up early tomorrow for flight to Seoul.

Posted by tdeits 06:52 Archived in Japan Tagged art food Comments (0)

More Perth

and Science!

sunny 79 °F

I took another day to explore Perth. I had two goals; one to visit the Perth Art Gallery and the other to visit Scitech, Perth's hands-on science museum. Science first, naturally!

Scitech is a very nice facility, probably a bit larger than Impression 5 in Lansing, but then it serves a metro region of about 1.25 million folks. Here are a couple of shots of some of the activties

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The air cannon target shows the air vortex from the cannon pretty clearly and the hive is fun to watch. The tube to the outside is full of bees coming and going; I watched for a while and I don't think I ever saw a bee change her plans and reverse direction. They also bump heads with oncoming bees almost every time; I'm guessing it's a recognition thing.

I thought this was quite a cool activity. It uses a projector and some clever software to create a live contour map of the material in the table below.
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They have a new exhibit coming called Innovation Central

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so naturally I chatted with some of the staff about this exhibit, which it turns out will be an exhibition of innovative items. I learned a new word as well; Chindōguz, which is Japanese for completely useless inventions designed to solve real-world problems. They will be a major facet of the new exhibit. We also had a chance to talk about our Innovation 5 project and agreed that keeping kids engaged as they age out of traditional science museum activities is a worldwide challenge.

There was one exhibit that puzzled me - not the exhibit, just the credit

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So I had to find out what a 'Men's shed' was. It turns out to be a community of Australian maker spaces which (with government funding !) are for blokes only!

On to the Art Gallery of Western Australia. (since it's no longer Tuesday). A pretty interesting collection very much focused on the art of Western Australia. There are some pretty iconic Australian images such as this

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and frankly, some real drek, like this

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There is a fairly limited selection of early work by indigenous artists, but they are better represented in later eras and some of them are pretty pointed criticisms

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This is a reference to the tragic history of Rottsnest Island that we visited just the day before. Prior to becoming a tourist destination, Rottsnest was used to incarcerate indigenous peoples, often on the flimsiest excuses, and keep them indefinitely. It was a terrible chapter in Perth's history and clearly not forgotten by some today. Indeed, the issue appears to be live today; here is a protest sign I found stuck by the side of the sidewalk when I was strolling around Perth

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I wandered back to my place with a lot to think about.

Posted by tdeits 07:18 Archived in Australia Tagged art museums science innovation makerspaces rottsnest Comments (0)

Paris, Pompidu and circumstance

Headed into the center of Paris for the first time. My first reaction is - it looks exactly like Paris. It is such a photographed city that it is hard not to come with a preconception of the city and it is hard for it not to be confirmed in the reality. As a result, I'm not tempted to take a bunch of pictures of the city per se (though I'm sure I'll sneak in a few). My second reaction is the city is a wonderful walkable mixed use community and that it achieves this by supporting a remarkably high population density. I have read estimates that the density is something like 200 dwelling units per acre, and given the vast number of 5, 6 and 7 storey apartments lining every street, I can believe. To put this in perspective for my Okemos friends, this is roughly equivalent to putting the entire township of Meridian in a space no larger than the Meridian Mall.

Well, all right, one picture - OK, two; one a quirky shot of the city at night and the other of the Pompidu center, my first museum destination.

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The Pompidu is famous for its aggressively mechanical architecture and as a center for modern art. It is also overwhelming. I spend the whole day there and I could only manage the visiting exhibitions; another whole huge floor of the permanent collection was more than I could handle. I started with an exhibit about Marcel Duchamp, who is most famous two works - Nude Descending A Staircase, one of the most shocking works ever to be exhibited in America in its era, and for painting a mustache on a reproduction of the Mona Lisa.

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The exhibit goes into exhaustive detail on the influences on Duchamp, starting with Dada and moving through Cubism, Fauvism, Impressionism, and more. It is interesting to see an artist work through all these styles, but I, as a layman, was left with the impression of more dilletantism with occasional brilliance. Interestingly, he wasn't a starving artist - he was supported by his wealthy father. Does this come into play in his inclination to move on in art rather than stake a claim and try to make it his, perhaps as other artists who needed the bread (literally) might be forced to do?

In any event, it was a lot to work through and it was nicely, if oddly, complemented by the other special exhibit of the works of Jeffery Koons. He has made no bones about making a living from his art and has become fabulously wealthy producing his unusual and frequently unsettling works. One element of the trajectory of his career can be encapsulated in three photos of objects from the beginning, middle and peak of his career.

The first is one of a set of assemblies of mundane inflatable objects and mirrors. In the second later piece he has retained the inflatable form and developed a reflective surface treatment. In the third and most recent object, he has scaled up and added color (and switched to a balloon dog). It's worth mentioning that an orange version of the inflatable dog sold for the highest price for any work by any living artist, $58.4 million.

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He does other work as well, of course, much of it unsettling and some totally NSFW. He reminds me of Rodin, who was also extremely successful at marketing his works (did you know there are 28 more-or-less original full size statues of The Thinker out there?) and who also was as much an artistic director as a hands-on artist, relying on craftsmen to execute his concepts.

That took most of the day! Time for a late French lunch. There is a fancy restaurant in the Pompidu so I decided to splurge. I had a French green bean and mushroom (yes, the big white discs are mushrooms) salad and a classic French beef carpaccio with a nice glass of Chablis.

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Armed with renewed strength, I tackled a Frank Gehry exhibit, equally deep and large, that took the rest of the day into evening (luckily the Pompidu is open quite late). There were interviews and documentaries and a huge collection of his models. He really kind of does work as shown in the Simpson's parody (where he crumples a letter from Marge asking him to build a building in Springfield and, after throwing it on the ground, decides it looks pretty good and so builds it) pushing and cutting chunks of cardboard and then staring at the result.

I like architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright fanboy) and in addition Robin works in a Gehry-designed building, the Stata Center. There was a model of the Stata center in the exhibition and I decided to out-Gehry Gehry. The model was in a display case and I set my phone for 'panorama' mode which is usually used to look out at a scene and instead I took an 'inside out' panorama, walking around the model. I think the result is pretty cool.

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Well, that was quite a day. My brain hurt. So I wrapped it up with Boeuf Bourginone in a nearby brasserie - with more wine, of course.

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I waddled back to the Metro and put my brain to bed. Nice day.

Posted by tdeits 23:15 Archived in France Tagged art food paris museum gehry koons duchamp pompidu Comments (0)

Japan at your feet

A little side excursion

sunny 87 °F

Well, this is my last post I am pulling together from my great Japan trip. It's something I noticed as we walked all over. Japan is very focused on building infrastructure and one of the places it shows is, of all places, in their sidewalks. As you walk around you notice that utility covers are specialized in every town, featuring things like the local festival, dogs in Akita, seagulls in Hachinohe and on and on. In addition to these attractively utilitarian additions, some neighborhoods have lovely ceramic tiles embedded in the sidewalk that change as you go block to block. One of the tiles below designates a local bike path.

Anyway, I would encourage you to look down now and then - you may be pleasently surprised by what you see!

Here, in no particular order, are some of the city art that we ran across. Some are labeled, some you may be able to guess, and the rest are just there to show how cool they are.

Enjoy!

yokohama_2.jpgyokohama_1.jpgunknown_1.jpg13B7A27CF5AF2D96E27D5B50D9F6B6E0.jpgTokyo_drain.jpgTokyo_bike_path.jpgtokyo_8.jpgtokyo_6.jpgtokyo_5.jpgtokyo_4.jpgtokyo_3.jpgtokyo_2.jpgMorioka.jpgMorioka_festival.jpg1388FAA5D46EF1F3909D2A9E5F85F5B2.jpg1382D7C60229EF223C39DF6364B68473.jpg137DFB6EC0A3FC5CC82ABED50880EDA4.jpgKobe.jpgkobe_2.jpgHachinohe.jpgfire.jpgAkita.jpg136599929680E23FC28DB7F109A6DC27.jpg1361B752BB6A203DD12555383F336770.jpg

Posted by tdeits 14:18 Archived in Japan Tagged art tokyo streets yokohama covers akita kushiro hachinohe morioka aomori utility Comments (0)

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