John L. Tran

For John L. Tran's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Don't take everyday objects at face value

Jun 30, 2015

Don't take everyday objects at face value

Atsushi Okubo’s graduation work is an experiment with Rubik’s Cubes and abstraction. The result is graphic, colorful and pleasing to the eye. By zooming the lens of his camera while the shutter is open, Okubo creates latticed images that seem to plunge away from ...

The big difference a little time can make

Jun 2, 2015

The big difference a little time can make

The main premise behind “Time of Others” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (MoT) is that there is no fixed self — “otherness” can be a matter of recognizing that our identities and qualities as people can change. The curatorial team behind the ...

Sayoko Yamaguchi, an enigma to the end

May 30, 2015

Sayoko Yamaguchi, an enigma to the end

You may not know the name, but there is a good chance you know the face. As Clara Bow, Greta Garbo and Twiggy were iconic of their times, Sayoko Yamaguchi was everywhere in the 1970s. Even if you weren’t a dedicated follower of fashion, ...

A prosaic picture of Japan's rural decline

May 12, 2015

A prosaic picture of Japan's rural decline

With all the current problems facing Japan’s rural communities, “Salt of the Earth” at the Tokyo Gallery is a visual contribution to an ongoing debate on their value and survival. The rhetoric of the show espouses the humble virtues of life in Amami, a ...

Kyotographie is jazzed up with notable photography

Apr 14, 2015

Kyotographie is jazzed up with notable photography

The curtain is about to rise on the 3rd Kyotographie festival of photography, and Lucille Reyboz, one of the two co-organizers, says that this is the most exciting but also most difficult time of the year. It’s a time to be “dokidoki” as she ...

Early photographers painted quite a pretty picture

Mar 26, 2015

Early photographers painted quite a pretty picture

One of the biggest problems with modern and contemporary art, for many people, is the seeming lack of skill or workmanship. The criticism is that contemporary art is a scam, in which the usual suspects are talentless fame-hungry artists, unscrupulous gallery owners and self-important ...

Masaru Iwai digs the dirt on cleanliness

Mar 12, 2015

Masaru Iwai digs the dirt on cleanliness

Masaru Iwai, a Ph.D. graduate from Tokyo University of Arts, tells me that he only showers once every two days. This fact causes the two gallery directors in the room to gasp in horror. In an ill-advised moment of sharing I let slip that ...

Imagery that sings the praises of the musical

Mar 5, 2015

Imagery that sings the praises of the musical

“They’re Wooin’ and Doin’ the Things Boys and Girls Like to Do . . . .” This is the message of many of the posters made for Hollywood musicals currently being exhibited at the National Film Center in Tokyo. Liza Minnelli, Mitzi Gaynor and ...

Tokyo Camera Style

Feb 28, 2015

Tokyo Camera Style

The reflexive anxiety of checking out other people’s cameras to see if theirs is better than yours is not really something to be proud of. However, admitting to addiction is one step to putting it behind you. Tokyo Camera Style, by John Sypal 288 ...