For James Jack's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Apr 16, 2014
Just after the train departs, a passenger falls to the floor. Further down the small train carriage another person follows suit. "Ma'am, are you sane?" questions a female announcer over the loudspeaker. The diesel train chugs forward. A young man asks, "Mom where did you go?" The mother responds, "The next town over." He answers, "Everyone there is sad." A young girl joins in, "It looks like that, but they aren't." The man wonders, "Really?" She replies, "Yes really." Entering Satomi Station a saxophonist, accordionist and guitar player prance onto the train playing wildly — it's all part of the act, in a new performance by Yubiwa Hotel taking place on a picturesque railway ride through the countryside of Chiba Prefecture.
Jan 8, 2014
A wall of 450 flip-clocks all display 15:26 in the entryway to "Second Thoughts" at Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito. Seconds pass ... CLICK, all synchronized to the minute. The sound of 15:27 is so overwhelming it's surprising to see only one digit change: 6 to 7. Standing, waiting for 15:28, I ponder the moment, the point between what has passed and what is to come. Is this everything, or is it nothing? Just one second to the next. Then all the clocks flip to 8.
Oct 30, 2013
He Xiangyu is a conceptualist with a clear vision of the world as a philosophical playground. The critical language employed in his artworks quotes from global consumerism, Americanism and militarism, emphasizing the power of infinitesimal change. He uses the shape of a leaf to describe creative process: Starting at the stem it branches out in many directions before returning to a thin tip in the end.
Aug 28, 2013
What is the connection between Kampala in Uganda, Fukushima in Japan and New Orleans in America? Tsuyoshi Ozawa links these seemingly disparate places in his ongoing series "Vegetable Weapons". The shape of a gun is formed out of local vegetables and photographed, before it's taken apart and the same vegetables become the ingredients for a dinner party.
Mar 28, 2013
Whenever traveling directly from one island in the Seto Inland Sea to another, I sense threads holding each one to the other. Perhaps this is a vestige of the trade routes that traversed the 700-plus islands in this scenic region between Hiroshima and Osaka. As sea trade waned in postwar Japan, these threads have become almost invisible, but artists such as Erika Masuya envision links connecting one island to another today.
Feb 7, 2013
In May 2011, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry promoted the idea of "Cool Japan," presenting Japanese culture as a product amid the confusing circumstances after the Great East Japan Earthquake. As Japan continues to suffer a declining population and weak economy, it was a government attempt to create a branding strategy for recovery.
Jan 17, 2013
Amid the hurry of daily life it is easy to forget what lies below our feet. To most of us, it may appear to be just cement or dirt, but to artist Kenji Yamada there are profound mysteries contained on the ground, in things as simple as our own footprints in the snow. His installation artworks are born out of memories, both personal and historical, and take shape in collaborations with architects, ethnographers and local community members. .
Nov 15, 2012
Spanning seventeen floors of a building that was once part of Tokyo Denki University in Kanda, the Trans Arts Tokyo project is bursting with exhibitions, talk events and workshops, open laboratories and artists-in-residence studios. The massive temporary art space is the latest work by Masato Nakamura, the artist and art producer who created the Arts Chiyoda 3331 complex two years ago. Each floor of Trans Arts Tokyo has a unique environment with a distinct ambiance, including many artworks, a number of which draw inspiration from the electronics experiments that occurred in the building during its past as an electrical university.
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