A Jolt to the System: Japanese installation artist Tabaimo


hanabi-ra (2003)
by tabaimo
a visual installation
(c) tabaimo / courtesy of gallery koyanagi

(a shorter version of this article appeared in the June 27, 2005 issue of newsweek international)

What comes to mind when you think of Japan? Sushi, sumo wrestlers, high-school girls in short skirts, tattooed gangsters? Stereotypes, to be sure. But the installation artist Tabaimo (a.k.a. Ayako Tabata) relies on such motifs to create playful commentaries on modern Japan. "To Japanese, the foreigners' idea of Japan is funny," she says. "It's even funnier to stuff as many stereotypes as possible into one piece."

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Photography by Miyako Ishiuchi: A Mother's Close Up


mother’s #49 (2002)
by Miyako Ishiuchi
74.0×108.0 cm
gelatin silver print
collection of the artist

At the Venice Biennale, Miyako Ishiuchi represents Japan with her memorable pictures of modern life.

(this article first appeared in the june 20, 2005 issue of newsweek international)

Photographer Miyako Ishiuchi has a confession to make. She doesn't like taking pictures. "Shooting at somebody at close range makes me nervous," she says. It's a strange statement coming from Ishiuchi, 58: after all, she has been chosen to represent Japan at the Venice Biennale for her memorable images of contemporary Japanese life. "Somehow I feel awkward," she insists.

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Polite Japanese bloggers

I've been wondering if there's such a thing as characteristics of Japanese bloggers. I wrote about how competitive Japanese bloggers are when it comes to getting PVs (page views) to their sites. Then I read an interview with Mena Trott, of the Movable Type fame, in the May 30 issue of Aera magazine. She says our blogs reflect the US-Japan cultural differences.

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Telly Heaven

Forget the couch. Now television is best viewed lying on your futon, with a laptop on your stomach.

(this article first appeared in the June 6/June 13, 2005 issue of newsweek international)

Akiko Takasu loves TV dramas. Every morning the violin teacher and mother of three teenagers in Saitama, north of Tokyo, quickly finishes her morning chores--cleaning up the house, doing laundry and dishes. Then she tunes in to ``Winter Sonata,'' a popular Korean soap, uninterrupted by her husband and kids. But she doesn't sit down in front of the family's big TV set; Takasu gazes into the 17-inch screen of a desktop computer. The drama is being broadcast on the Internet, so she watches whenever she's ready. ``I watch it alone,'' says Takasu. ``This way I can really get into the world of this wonderful story.''

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