The Discomforts of Home: Reversible-Destiny Lofts by Arakawa and Gins


an exterior of reversible-destiny lofts (2005)
arakawa + gins
photo by masataka nakano

(this article first appeared in the december 19, 2005 issue of newsweek international)

An innovative new housing project in Tokyo aims to keep residents sharp by throwing them off balance. Duck!

Most people, in choosing a new home, look for comfort: a serene atmosphere, smooth walls and floors, a logical layout. Nonsense, says Shusaku Arakawa, a Japanese artist based in New York. He and his creative partner, poet Madeline Gins, recently unveiled a small apartment complex in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka that is anything but comfortable and calming. "People, particularly old people, shouldn't relax and sit back to help them decline," he insists. "They should be in an environment that stimulates their senses and invigorates their lives."

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Getting Your Body (And Soul) Wired: Japan's New Touch Technologies

(this article first appeared in the december 12, 2005 issue of newsweek international)

In his gadget-filled office at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Prof. Kohji Mitsubayashi tells a visitor to touch a transmitter with one hand and a receiver with another. Voila! A jaunty TV jingle blares from a pair of attached speakers. Surprised, the visitor releases both gadgets, and the music stops. The simplicity and strangeness of becoming a human circuit -- with electrical signals coursing through one's body from fingertip to fingertip -- is so fascinating that visitors usually repeat the act. "Fun, isn't it?" says Mitsubayashi, grinning.

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Is America Obsessed with Asian Women?


poster for "the barbarian and the geisha" (1958)

I came home from a trip to the States with a question: Is America obsessed with us Asian ladies?

Leafing through the November/December issue of Radar magazine I picked up at the San Francisco airport, I got to thinking. In the mag, I found not one but two (albeit tiny) pieces on dating/marrying us, Asian women.

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Motorcycle Samurais: Japan's New Nihonga Artists


bunshin (2005)
by hisashi tenmyouya
(c) hisashi tenmyouya / courtesy of mizuma art gallery
acrylic paint, wood 146 x 60.5 cm

(this article first appeared in the november 28, 2005 issue of newsweek international)

At first glance, Akira Yamaguchi's paintings look like traditional Japanese pieces. Inspired by centuries-old screens and scrolls, they feature armor-clad samurais and ancient castles with golden clouds floating overhead. But look closer: motorcycles and high-rise buildings are subtly embedded among the battle scenes and idyllic landscapes. And while traditional works are done with powdered mineral pigments and ink, Yamaguchi uses oil paints and sometimes watercolors. The result is a series of works that are as flashy and funny as traditional Japanese pictures are solemn and quiet.

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