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John L. Tran
For John L. Tran's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Sep 8, 2015
Pure landscape photography
The exhibition "Stream of Consciousness" at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery is an extremely successful representation of contemporary Japanese photographic art. It combines some of the salient aspects of Japanese culture with the aesthetically formal, yet emotive imagery that is indicative of what gives...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Sep 1, 2015
Takashi Homma's window on today's crafts
Broadly speaking, compared to Britain, Germany and the United States, France and Japan have shared an alternative approach to design since the industrial revolution, focusing more on the appreciation of handmade and luxury goods. This economic necessity reverberates today as a mutual affection of these...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Aug 18, 2015
Postwar art: What's wrong with controversy?
If you like controversy with your contemporary art "Postwar Art in Close Up" at The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) may be the wrong exhibition to visit. Though it is tentatively presented as a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II — with all the pitfalls that may...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Aug 4, 2015
Dinh Q. Le's art of nuanced criticism
Dinh Q. Le says he's not angry about the American war in Vietnam anymore. This makes our interview a lot easier; we are both of Vietnamese descent and there is a chance that talking about the war could polarize us very quickly, even though we are one generation removed from those that fought.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jul 28, 2015
Japan's clean aesthetic hid the ugly mess of war
Why would anybody want to go to war? For some of us it's incomprehensible. For others, there will be circumstances that make war justifiable — or even desirable.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jul 28, 2015
Things that changed photography
In the late 1960s, the mono-ha (school of things) movement arose from the Japanese art-school scene, with the Korean-born artist Lee Ufan — who went from the philosophy department at Nihon University to teaching at Tama Art University — as its most renowned proponent. Using raw materials...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jul 7, 2015
'Motion Science' sways toward kids
There is a bit of a Renaissance feel to "Motion Science" at 21_21 Design Sight. Consciously compounding science, technology, art and design for the greater good of promoting curiosity and discovery in general, the exhibition is targeted at children and students. Automated devices and installations whirl,...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jun 30, 2015
Don't take everyday objects at face value
Atsushi Okabe'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, Okabe creates latticed images that seem to plunge away from the viewer into geometric and unearthly...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
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 exhibition do not use "otherness" in its more postcolonial...
Japan Times
LIFE / Style & Design
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, it would have been difficult to avoid her cool gaze, which appeared...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
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 group of islands between Kagoshima and Okinawa,...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
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.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Mar 26, 2015
Early photographers painted quite a pretty picture
...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
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 in Britain this wouldn't be so unusual. It's not that Iwai is a...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Mar 7, 2015
The problems and pleasure of publishing the horrors of the 3/11 tsunami
At a symposium on "Trauma and Utopia" held in Tokyo in October 2014, photographer Naoya Hatakeyama talked about his work in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, a disaster that killed his mother and destroyed his home in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture. During this, he acknowledged...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
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 Gwen Verdon, among others, titillate with unfeasibly thin waists,...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
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.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Feb 26, 2015
Gabriel Orozco's connections with Japan
The photographer and I have been waiting for about half an hour to interview Gabriel Orozco. It's a little disappointing, but that's OK. Orozco has famously made disappointment part of his creative practice. While waiting we chat about how much we have been impressed and influenced by the artist's work,...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Feb 19, 2015
The peak that can move mountains
The current show, 'Fuji Paradigms: Visions of Mt. Fuji,' at the Izu Photo Museum is in two parts. One is an amalgamation of images in varied formats that depict Mount Fuji as a national symbol, and the other is a tightly focused collection that documents the work of one man, Count Masanao Abe, who photographed...
Japan Times
LIFE / Style & Design
Feb 12, 2015
Tange's indispensable contacts
If you've ever had the opportunity to stay at the Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel in the Shinjuku Park Tower — I haven't, but I know someone who has — you'll know how looking down from the 52nd floor on the silent city from the hermetic calm of a guest room is mesmerizing. Sofia Coppola used this to good...

Longform

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