Monday, February 23, 2015

"NTT creates two-dimensional pictures that can move"



From Japan Today, 2/23/15:

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (NTT) recently announced that they’ve developed a way to make normal, printed-out two-dimensional pictures look like they’re moving through a bit of magic of their own.

The way NTT accomplishes this is by using a projector to shine a moving light onto a picture.

NTT calls the process “Hengento” (Deformation Lamps): a lamp (the projector) is deforming (magic-ifying) a picture.

All NTT has done is trick our brains with an optical illusion. Whenever we watch a movie or TV, our brain puts together the “color,” “form,” and “motion” we see to make a moving image. NTT has simply split up the process: the “color” and “form” part are given by the two-dimensional picture, and the “motion” is given by the projector shining a moving grayscale version of the picture over the original. Our brain still puts it all together just the same, resulting in what looks like a moving image.

NTT has also developed a way of using “Hengento” on three-dimensional objects too. By using the same kind of projector, they can make it look like a three-dimensional object is moving, either with the object standing alone, or behind a transparent screen that the projector would shine on.

NTT plans on using “hentengo” for advertising (imagine giant moving billboards), interior design (turn your boring old floor into an aquarium, or project a cozy fire onto the wall), and art/entertainment.


Source: http://www.japantoday.com/category/arts-culture/view/ntt-creates-two-dimensional-pictures-that-can-move

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Interesting new content at Japan Focus: "On Imaging Disaster: Tokyo and the Visual Culture of Japan’s Great Earthquake of 1923" by Gennifer Weisenfeld

Image and text borrowed from Japan Focus (see full citation below). 
Caption reads: Taishō 12.9.1 Actual Conditions of the Great Tokyo Earthquake: Twelve Stories.

Disaster is an ever-present, and ever-timely, issue both in Japan and around the world. The triple disaster of 3.11 and its extensive media coverage are a vivid reminder not only of disaster’s critical and catalytic role in history, but the dynamic agency of images in mediating our experiences of natural or man-made events to produce that history. The 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake, which devastated the major cities of Tokyo and Yokohama, as well as five other surrounding prefectures, was one of the world’s worst natural disasters of the early twentieth century. In terms of loss of life and material damage, with an estimated 140,000 deaths and countless homeless, it is still Japan’s worst national disaster. Having marked the 91th anniversary of the quake on September 1st, we have an opportunity to learn anew from the media scale of this catastrophe, how different media produce modes of seeing, understanding, and, eventually, remembering. Only by analyzing contending visual responses within disaster communities and how they are codified into collective memory to form a national narrative can we ultimately understand how major events like the Great Kantō Earthquake—or 3.11—become history.

Disaster is an ever-present, and ever-timely, issue both in Japan and around the world. The triple disaster of 3.11 and its extensive media coverage are a vivid reminder not only of disaster’s critical and catalytic role in history, but the dynamic agency of images in mediating our experiences of natural or man-made events to produce that history. The 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake, which devastated the major cities of Tokyo and Yokohama, as well as five other surrounding prefectures, was one of the world’s worst natural disasters of the early twentieth century. In terms of loss of life and material damage, with an estimated 140,000 deaths and countless homeless, it is still Japan’s worst national disaster. Having marked the 91th anniversary of the quake on September 1st, we have an opportunity to learn anew from the media scale of this catastrophe, how different media produce modes of seeing, understanding, and, eventually, remembering. Only by analyzing contending visual responses within disaster communities and how they are codified into collective memory to form a national narrative can we ultimately understand how major events like the Great Kantō Earthquake—or 3.11—become history.


Read and see more at the source: "On Imaging Disaster: Tokyo and the Visual Culture of Japan’s Great Earthquake of 1923", The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 6, No. 2, February 9, 2015. http://japanfocus.org/-Gennifer-Weisenfeld/4270

Monday, February 9, 2015

"Forget your paints and pencils! Emojis are the best new art medium"

Image and text borrowed from Japan Today, 2/9/15.

...thanks to a new site, anyone can freely combine emoji for a hundred times more expressiveness. That’s exactly what Kazuki Takakura, art director for a Tokyo theatre company, did – and the results are nothing short of spectacular!

...the website presents users with every emoji available... After selecting an emoji, the user is presented with a blank canvas, upon which your chosen emoji can be placed. Clicking and dragging will paste a string of the images, like a paint brush. You can quickly select other emoji by pressing any key on the keyboard or change their size.

URL: http://emoji.ink/

Source: http://www.japantoday.com/category/arts-culture/view/forget-your-paints-and-pencils-emojis-are-the-best-new-art-medium

Sunday, February 8, 2015

So Wrong: "Oregon judge: taking photos up girl's skirt not illegal"

From Reuters via MSN.com, 2/7/15:

An Oregon judge has acquitted a 61-year-old man who admitted taking photographs up the skirt of a 13-year-old girl as she shopped at a Target store in suburban Portland, lawyers in the case said Friday.

Washington County Circuit Court Judge Eric Butterfield ruled on Thursday that Patrick Buono did not break the law when he surreptitiously took the pictures of the girl in January 2013, said his defense attorney Mark Lawrence.

"He did not deny it and he feels real bad about it too, by the way," Lawrence said.

The girl did not notice his actions, Lawrence said, but another woman in the store alerted officials and film from surveillance cameras later confirmed Buono's act.

The practice of "upskirting" has caused problems for prosecutors in other court cases where there are no laws on the books preventing people from taking unauthorized pictures up the skirts of clothed women in public places.

Prosecutors accused Buono of attempting to engage in criminal conduct and charged him with invasion of privacy and attempted encouraging child sex abuse.

Washington County Deputy District Attorney Paul Maloney said the girl, now 14 and testified against Buono in court, was shocked by the incident. He said he was disappointed by the judge's decision.

...

Lawrence said he filed for an acquittal in the case because there was no Oregon law that Buono had violated.

Maloney said he thinks lawmakers could provide more clarity, "but it was clear what conduct the defendant engaged in."


Are there no child porn laws in Oregon? Seems like another instance of lazy law enforcement and prosecution in the USA.

Source: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/oregon-judge-taking-photos-up-girls-skirt-not-illegal/ar-AA95oKA

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"Princess Kako attends ‘kyogen’ play performed in sign language in Tokyo"

Photo and text borrowed from The Asahi News, 2/2/15.

Princess Kiko and her daughter Princess Kako attended traditional “kyogen” comedic plays performed in sign language by actors with hearing impairments at the National Noh Theater in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on Feb. 1.

Kako is the second daughter of Prince Fumihito, the second in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne. She is studying sign language, which her mother has studied and is well versed in.

The Japanese Theater of the Deaf performed such plays as “Jishaku” (magnet). The event in Japanese is roughly translated as “kyogen performed in sign language in early spring.”

After the performances, Kiko and Kako spoke with the actors and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, who heads the Totto Foundation, in sign language. The social welfare corporation assists the theater group.

Kako was quoted by Kuroyanagi as saying, “I laughed because (the plays) were a lot of fun.”

When an actor asked Kako about her thoughts on turning 20, which is the legal age of adulthood in Japan, she was quoted as saying, “I am now allowed to drink alcohol, but I have not tried it yet.”


Source: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201502020034

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Effects of HIV on the Body

Graphic borrowed from Healthline.

I received a message from a marketing manager at Healthline about an interesting website with nice graphics that illustrate the effects of HIV on the human body. Very useful and educational - check it out. I'd like to see a Japanese version someday.

Link: http://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/effects-on-body

Monday, January 26, 2015

"It’s OK to film people in public in Japan, if the conditions justify it"

My colleague Sally brought this recent article by attorney Kyoko Hijikata in The Japan Times (1/25/15) to my attention. It addresses a complex question that VAOJ has been wrestling with for years.

Reader R.S. asks, “In Japan, is it OK to film other people in public?

Well, in Japan, freedom of expression is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. As filming and taking pictures are two of the means by which individuals can express their ideas, they are protected by Article 21.

On the other hand, people have the right not to be photographed or filmed without good reason. We call this their portrait rights, and this right is based on Article 13 of the Constitution, which guarantees the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

So, Japan’s courts have had to consider which right takes priority in particular cases. In a ruling in 2005, the Supreme Court stated that taking photos without consent is illegal if the extent of the violation of the subject’s personal rights exceeds the maximum acceptable according to social norms, while taking into consideration the social status of the people photographed, the content of activities, the location where filming took place, the photographers’ purpose, the way the pictures were taken, the necessity of capturing the images, and so on. Although the case that led to this ruling concerned courtroom photographs and drawings, the precedent is considered to apply equally to film.

In the Supreme Court case, the photographer had taken pictures of the accused in court, and the Supreme Court made the judgment that this act was illegal because the accused was in handcuffs, which were tied to a rope around his waist, and the photographer had not obtained the court’s permission to take pictures.

As described above, the courts make judgments based on several factors, which means the decision-making process can be quite detailed, and rulings will differ from case to case depending on these variables.

For example, in another quite similar case in November 1993, the Tokyo High Court ruled that images of a suspect being driven to court were legal. The filming was done from the road, and the picture of the accused only showed his upper body, so restraints such as handcuffs and ropes were not visible.

So, to answer the reader’s question, “Is there a right to film other people in public?” the answer is “Yes, but only if it can be justified in the circumstances.”


Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/01/25/how-tos/its-ok-to-film-people-in-public-in-japan-if-the-conditions-justify-it/#.VMXRrieWRHB

I think this answer to the question of photographing in public in Japan is dangerous because of its simplicity. Hijikata discusses the difficulty courts have in making such decisions (there are many more cases the author should probably have considered other than those dealing with criminals - how about some real life scenarios?) so how can a normal citizen, student and/or foreigner judge "if it can be justified in the circumstances"? It is more than simple rights - ethics, morals, values and feelings should be considered. If I were pressed to give a simplistic answer to this question, I would say ask the person you are photographing for permission.

For previous VAOJ coverage of this question, see the Shooting Culture in Japan project: http://visualanthropologyofjapan.blogspot.jp/2009/02/ethics-of-visual-anthropology-in-japan_12.html