Monday, August 31, 2009

"Security cameras on trains being considered to reduce groping"

From today's Japan Today:

The National Police Agency plans to consider ways to reduce the occurrence of groping on trains, such as installing security cameras inside carriages, after a recent spate of acquittals in groping cases has raised questions about how to investigate them, agency officials said Monday.

A study group to be set up in fiscal 2010 with railway operators and outside experts will discuss the matter, the officials said, but whether the plan to install cameras will be put into place remains to be seen as the discussions will be held under a new administration led by the Democratic Party of Japan.

In its policy package released in July, the DPJ, which won a landslide in Sunday’s general election, raised concerns about the "harmful effects of an unlimited expansion of police authority, such as the abuse of investigative authority and the invasion of privacy."

It also vowed to "firmly lay down with human rights in mind the rules of administration when new investigative techniques are to be used."

Read the whole story:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Gov't wants Google to say when it will take Street View footage"

From Japan Today, 8/26/09:

The communications ministry plans to urge Google Inc to take steps to ensure that its Street View service will not intrude into people’s privacy, including alerting residents about when and where it will take its close-up, 360-degree color footage of city streets, ministry officials said Tuesday.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry made the decision after an advisory panel put forward a set of recommendations in a report the same day, urging it to demand that the Mountain View, California-based Internet firm inform both municipal governments and residents beforehand of the time and place when it shoots street film.

The service provides close-up views of city streets as caught by Google’s Street View cameras installed in vehicles driving along the roads.

In June, the panel determined that the service could be deemed consistent with Japan’s personal information protection law, if the firm takes appropriate steps including blurring identifiable images, such as faces.

But in the latest report, the panel said, ‘‘It cannot be said that people would accept the service immediately even if problems concerning its legality may have been cleared up.’’

‘‘Therefore, it is indispensable that Google go on taking measures to allay ordinary citizens’ concerns and anxieties about the service,’’ it said.

Dozens of municipal assemblies, such as Tokyo’s Machida city assembly and Nara Prefecture’s Ikoma city assembly, have adopted resolutions urging the government to place curbs on the service, on the grounds it may breach the privacy of residents whose images might be taken by the Street View cameras, along with those of their properties.

Read the whole story and reader comments at Japan Today:

Click here for more background information about Street View.

Don't take pictures on the train, especially if you are driving it...

From Japan Today, 8/25/09:

JR West driver took photos of 2 women passengers while operating train at 120 kph

A West Japan Railway Co (JR West) driver secretly took photos of two female passengers with his mobile phone camera through the rear window of the driver’s cabin while he was operating the train at 120 kilometers per hour, JR admitted Monday.

The incident first came to light last Saturday at a meeting for the victims and families affected by the fatal 2005 Amagasaki rail crash. According to JR West, the 28-year-old driver from the JR West Kanazawa branch was operating a train on the Kosei line, and took photos of the women between Makino and Nagahara stations on the morning of Aug 21.

At the time, the train was traveling at 120 kilometers per hour, and the driver took his eyes off the controls and tracks for about 7 or 8 seconds while taking the photos.

The driver was quoted as saying: “When I went to shut the curtain behind my seat, these two attractive women caught my eye, so I took their photo.” The women noticed the camera flash and complained to the train conductor at Nagahara station.

Read the whole story and reader comments:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Big Man Japan

(Image borrowed from I Watch

My cousin, Bob Aho (yes, for you Japanese speakers, his name really is Aho) e-mailed me about this movie: I rented a movie called "Big Man Japan" this weekend, about a washed-up super hero, who battles giant monsters. His neighbors wrote "AHO" on the wall just outside his home, and people kept throwing bricks through his windows, etc. - brilliant!

Here's what Rotten Tomatoes says: BIG MAN IN JAPAN is the latest in a burgeoning genre of films combining documentary aesthetics with fictional content, but it is by far the funniest and most creative of this group. The film depicts the everyday life of Daisatou, a man who periodically transforms into Dai-Nipponjin, a Godzilla-sized behemoth who fights off an odd mix of monsters who are constantly invading Japan. These battles are broadcast on television, and Daisatou generates additional revenue by sporting tattoos of various companies on his torso. But the market for mega-superheroes is bottoming out, and his show has been relegated to a late-late-night timeslot, causing the interviewer to comment, "Even the weather gets better ratings than you." It gets worse--everyone hates Dai-Nipponjin, claiming he causes more damage than he prevents, uses up too much electricity (needed to make his transformation), and disrupts their lives with noise and traffic jams. His wife has left him, not wanting their daughter to be forced to follow in his giant footsteps. His grandfather (and mega-sized predecessor) suffers from dementia from the massive amounts of electricity he ingested. But through it all, Daisatou does his patriotic duty by battling a memorable assortment of "baddies," including "Mean Look Baddie" and "Smelly Baddie." The film is filled with parodies of familiar documentary moments, such as the prolonged awkward silence that ensues when the subject does not want to answer a particular question, and the inevitable scene where the cameraman is told to turn off the camera but continues surreptitiously filming anyway. This intelligent cinematic satire is offset by the hilarious ceremonial logistics required for Daisatou to transform, and the outrageous computer-generated monsters he encounters. The climactic final confrontation between Dai-Nipponjin and his nemesis ranks among the funniest closing sequences of all time.

Sounds very interesting for visual anthropologists. Here's the trailer:

Has anyone else seen this? I'll be ordering a copy from soon...

Monday, August 17, 2009

No! Drug

Here's one from the "I just couldn't help it" department...

(Image and text below borrowed from Japan Today, 7/1/09)

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Ryu Shionoya, 59, recently showed off the new anti-drug poster featuring actress Yukie Nakama, 29, that will be put up at junior high schools, high schools and universities around Japan this month. The poster says “NO! DRUG” in English in a large white font, and underneath it says “dame, zettai” – which means something to the effect of not taking them under any circumstances.

The poster targeting drug use among young people coincides with this month’s release of “Gokusen THE MOVIE,” starring Nakama as Kumiko Yamaguchi – mathematics teacher and granddaughter of a yakuza boss - and she is wearing her trademark sports gear in the poster. She is folding her arms and in smaller white font next to her resolute pose is a sentence that says: “Let’s get the courage to stand up and protect those important to us.”

How effective do you believe this poster is? This poster/campaign is also timely in wake of the recent drug use scandal concerning Noriko Sakai.

If you are unaware of the recent scandal, here is a brief synopsis: Husband of pop star/singer/actress Noriko Sakai is pulled aside by the police because he is walking funny. They search him and find a small amount of stimulant drugs in his underwear. The husband tells them that his wife uses drugs as well. Somehow this gives the police cause to search the home of Sakai herself (who lives separately from her husband) where they end up finding .008 grams of stimulants and are able to match her DNA to them. Noriko disappears amid a media frenzy. She finally turns herself in and confesses to taking the drugs on the advice of her husband. We also find out that her brother had recently been busted for drugs as well. While this story has calmed over the Obon holiday, the media circus and the Japanese attitudes towards drugs remains under scrutiny.

(For us at VAOJ, it might be interesting to note that Noriko Sakai starred in Hoshi no Kinka, a popular Japanese drama with a deaf protagonist.)

Here is an article from Japan Times that gives more background on the Sakai case and supposed drug use in Japan.

Sakai bust puts spotlight on narcotics evil:
Case of ex-antidrug poster girl points to stimulants' proliferation

Here's a video that's been going around a lot (I first saw it on Japan Probe). This video was produced by the Japanese Police and aired on Fuji Television during the Sakai frenzy.

For you Americans out there, does this bring back flashbacks of Reefer Madness and after-school specials? How effective is this video do you think in drug education and preventing young people from taking drugs?

Along with such posters and videos, we often see commercials on Japanese TV for "vitamin supplements" for old people that are supposed to give them more energy and allow them to live better lives. My favorite commercial shows an old woman crawling up a stair case. But after she takes the "vitamins" she is shown running up and down the stairs. How do we know she didn't smoke some crack? Why are these supplements legal while other drugs like caffeine, alcohol (available in vending machines) and tobacco (the Japanese government owns 50% of the domestic industry) legal?

How does visual representation influence the use of both legal and illegal drugs?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Article 9, Japanese Pacifism, and American Militarism

Another announcement from H-Japan:

Film director John Junkerman will introduce his film "Japan's Peace Constitution" (2005) during his lecture/discussion about the Japanese Constitution's Article 9 within the broad context of Japanese pacifism and American militarism.

Date & Time: Tuesday, September 29, 2009, 7:00 pm
Venue: Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall, International House of Japan
Admission: Free
Language: English (no Japanese translation provided)

Born in Milwaukee, the United States, Mr. Junkerman is a leading American filmmaker attempting to raise public awareness through his films on various socio-political and historical issues facing Japan and the global community. His first film was Hellfire—A Journey from Hiroshima (1986). A co-production with John Dower, the noted historian, it is based on his interviews with Iri and Toshi Maruki, Japanese artists known for their “Genbaku no zu (Hiroshima Murals),” paintings dealing with the aftermath of the atomic bombing, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1988. His Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times (2002) gives viewers a rare opportunity to listen to and reflect on the critical discourse of Noam Chomsky, one of the most important public intellectuals and political dissidents of our time.

For more information, see the I-House web page:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MIT Visualizing Cultures

Here's an interesting resource and application of visual methodologies. There are a lot of Japan related materials to check out:

Self description:

Visualizing Cultures weds images and scholarly commentary in innovative ways to illuminate social and cultural history. Founded in 2002 by MIT Professors John Dower and Shigeru Miyagawa, Visualizing Cultures exploits the unique qualities of the Web as a publishing platform to enable scholars, teachers, and others to: (1) examine large bodies of previously inaccessible images; (2) compose original texts with unlimited numbers of full-color, high-resolution images; and (3) use new technology to explore unprecedented ways of analyzing and presenting images that open windows on modern history.

Visualizing Cultures has positioned itself as a nexus between the institutions that house image collections and the scholars who would like to use them for research purposes. Publishing on MIT’s revolutionary OpenCourseWare—making MIT courses freely available on the Web—Visualizing Cultures has worked with many institutions to negotiate online publication of images for educational purposes using a creative commons license.

For more information:

e-Asia Digital Library

This resource has been announced on H-ASIA and H-Japan. There are some visual resources here that might be of interest to visual anthropologists.

e-Asia Digital Library

University of Oregon Library, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, US


The e-Asia project is funded by the University of Oregon Library through the generosity of Nissho Iwai.

By building a collection of digitized e-books and a database of full text web resources, e-Asia strives to contribute to the research and scholarship of East Asia. While the e-Asia project is based largely on resources held at the University of Oregon Library, its purpose is neither to duplicate nor displace printed traditonal materials. Rather, by providing searchable full text, the digitalization efforts of e-Asia represent a new tool aimed at facilitating the information-gathering process.

Site contents:

* About e-Asia (About e-Asia, Contributors, Contact Us);
* Maps (Maps of China, Maps of Japan, Maps of S. Korea, Maps of N. Korea, Maps of Taiwan, Other Maps);
* Images (Images of China, Images of Japan, Images of S. Korea, Images of N. Korea, Images of Taiwan);
* Audio [MP3 Format - ed.] (Sounds of China, Sounds of Japan, Sounds of Korea, Sounds of Taiwan);
* Film [Flash Format - ed.] (Chinese Cinema, Japanese Cinema, North Korea Cinema, South Korea Cinema, Taiwan Cinema, Other Cinema);
* Projects (China Projects, Japan Projects);
* Special Collections;
* Search e-Asia by Keyword;
* Browse/Search e-Asia by Subject (China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Other E-Books);
* Browse Alphabetical Listing by Author (China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Other E-Books);
* e-Asia's Most Recent Additions (China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Other E-Books);
* e-Book Formats (General guides, Standard pdf, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket, Stanza (iPhone, iPod), Other formats);
* Other Digital Libraries (Google Books, Internet Archive, Aozora Bunko, Project Gutenberg, Distributed Proofreaders, China-US Million Book Digital Library Project, More library collections).


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Conference: Feeling Photography, October 16-17, 2009, Toronto

Another announcement from H-ASIA:

"Feeling Photography" is an international, interdisciplinary conference that will bring together scholars working in a range of interpretive and theoretical approaches to interrogate the relationship between the affect, emotion, and/or feeling and the photograph. The conference will be held at the University of Toronto and is sponsored by the Centre for the Study of the United State and the Toronto Photography Seminar.

The conference features plenary addresses from the following scholars: Lisa Cartwright (UCSD); Ann Cvetkovich (UT Austin); David Eng (Penn); Marianne Hirsch (Columbia) and Leo Spitzer (Dartmouth); Christopher Pinney (University College, London); Shawn Michelle Smith (School of the Art Institute of Chicago); and Diana Taylor (NYU). We have assembled fifty-two papers from our fall CFP into sixteen panels featuring scholarly work from across the globe and the disciplines. Panel topics include Children and the Political Management of Affect; Feeling Together: Publics and Counterpublics; Emotional Geographies; Marketing Emotions: Loss, Fear and (Comic) Loathing; Racial Affects; Emotional States: Citizenship and Photography; Instrumental Images: Bodies, Cities and Empires, 1903-1918; Digital Affects; Public Intimacies; Touching Photo; Visual Witnessing: Photography and World War II; Feeling First: Documentary and Left Internationalism; Photography, Trauma, and the Ethics of Witnessing; Queer Affect(s); Affective Economies; Facial Tics - Faciality.

Early registration deadline for the conference is September 1st. To Register, and for further information, see

Monday, August 10, 2009

Outsider Cinema from the Philippines

Saturday, August 15, 2009 • Showtime 7PM
Visual Communications @ The Union Center for the Arts

Visual Communications, in association with noted Philippine independent director Ruelo Lozendo, is pleased to present this collection of works by three internationally renowned filmmakers and one emerging voice from the New Philippine Independent Film Movement. Emerging director Dada Docot, along with enfants terrible Raya Martin, John Torres, and Khavn de la Cruz are spotlighted in short films that further illustrates the Philippine's continuing contributions to the range of adventurous and innovative films of world cinema.

VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS @ The Union Center for the Arts
120 Judge John Aiso Street, Basement Level, Los Angeles 90012

For more information, check out

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Visual Literacy Workshop Homework: Two Frame Story

Reed College Student Union Serves Local Microbrew Beer

I had two goals for my two frame story about the student union at Reed. First I saw this story as an attempt at applied anthropology. My own university does not have a student union where alcohol is served and students can gather. This is a problem as students complain about the local drinking establishments being too expensive. Thus students tend to purchase alcohol from vending machines and congregate in a local park, sometimes until very late in the night, sometimes being very loud which causes complaints from local neighbors. Reed College seems somewhat isolated in terms of nearby bars, so how progressive of them I thought. And what a possible interesting model for my own university: convert an old gym or other building into a student union and solve the problems of students and neighbors all at once.

The second goal of my two frame story was an attempt at local ethnography. I was told early on that the two most important local industries in Portland were coffee and microbrew beer. Participant observation at the union along with interviewing one of the bartenders, Liz, seemed like a good way to get information and take more informed photographs at the same time.

The first thing I learned was that Liz worked for a local catering company that Reed College uses for special events. The bar at the student union was set up for a writer's workshop on campus and would end in a couple of days. Thus it was not a progressive move on the part of the college to supply alcohol in a safe and friendly atmosphere for its students. So much for my applied anthro project...

Liz taught me about the beer they served, made by Widmer Brothers Brewing Company. Through her own recent history she was able to tell me about the local environment and economy as well. Liz is originally from New York where she graduated with a degree in... anthropology. She moved to Portland four years ago and found it difficult to find work. She described Portland as being a "foody-town" thus it was difficult to even get a job at a coffee house. Portland's economy is in a difficult situation, but the beer and wine industry seems to be doing well. She got her job at the catering company three years ago and works "on-call." She is also going to school to become a nurse. Many thanks to Liz for sharing her time and stories with me; I hope I represented you as you would have liked.


OK, so I hoped that my homework might serve as a model for my students doing their own two frame stories for their visual blogs. But I was too long-winded. And I didn't even get to talk about Liz's tattoo or cat...

I also put together a collage using some other photographs I took (I have been experimenting with photo collages lately) as "extra credit."

Perhaps I can better empathize with my students now. There is so much good stuff out there to record. How can we limit our text and still include all we feel is important?

Friday, August 7, 2009

What's going on with VAOJ?

Yes, dear readers, nearly a month went by with no posts and now a manic slew of posts has been uploaded in a seemingly haphazard order with seemingly strange subject matter (Jimi Hendrix's grave?) for your reading/viewing pleasure. Much of the last month was spent traveling. One highlight was my participation in the 2009 Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication program. Specifically I was a student in the workshop "Visual Literacy: The Meaning of Images in a Multicultural World" taught by Jack Condon and Miguel Gandert. It was an incredible experience - I learned not only how to make (take) better photographs but how to better "read" photographs as well. I hope to include what I learned in my Visual Anthropology of Japan course and in my own research. Many thanks to Jack and Miguel (three days wasn't enough to extract all the valuable information and experience these guys have - but three days was certainly enough to learn how incredibly caring and friendly they are) and all workshop participants. And kudos to the directors, teachers and volunteers who ran the Summer Institute - I have never been to such an organized event. This is a great program for anyone interested in intercultural communications.

One odd thing was that I didn't take many photos at the workshop - other than my homework. My next post will feature my second homework assignment.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Hiroshima: A Visual Record"

elin o'Hara slavick discusses her work in a recent Japan Focus article:

On August 6, 1945, the United States of America dropped an atomic bomb fueled by enriched uranium on the city of Hiroshima. 70,000 people died instantly. Another 70,000 died by the end of 1945 as a result of exposure to radiation and other related injuries. Scores of thousands would continue to die from the effects of the bomb over subsequent decades. Despite the fact that the U.S. is the only nation to have used atomic weapons against another nation, Americans have had little access to the visual record of those attacks. For decades the U.S. suppressed images of the bomb's effects on the residents of Hiroshima, and as recently as 1995, on the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing, the Smithsonian Institution cancelled its exhibition that would have revealed those effects and settled for the presentation of a single exhibit: the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.

For the victims, the situation is quite different. Hiroshima is now a City of Peace. Everywhere there are memorials to this catastrophic event that inaugurated the Atomic Age and monuments to the commitment to peace at the center of the Hiroshima response to war. A-bombed trees continue to grow and A-bombed buildings remain – marking history, trauma and survival. The city is dotted with clinics for the survivors and their special pathologies. Names are added each year to the registry of the dead as a result of the bomb. This registry is central to the large Peace Memorial Park that houses the Peace Memorial Museum, countless monuments, and a Hall of Remembrance, all situated in the heart of downtown Hiroshima. It has been over 60 years since the atomic bomb was dropped, but the A-bomb is everywhere in Hiroshima.

The enormity of Hiroshima challenges the artist, especially the American artist, in ethical and formal ways. For several years I worked on a series of anti-war drawings of places the United States has bombed, subsequently published as the book Bomb After Bomb: A Violent Cartography, (Charta, Milan, Italy, 2007), with a foreword by former U.S. air force bombardier and radical historian Howard Zinn. After making relatively abstract drawings from the bomber's aerial perspective that include no people – civilians, victims, soldiers or otherwise – I have now been on the ground, 60 years after the bomb was dropped, but still, on the ground. Hiroshima suddenly became real to me.

Read/see the whole article:

Meanwhile a recent article from Japan Today declares:

Poll in U.S. finds support for World War II atom bombings

A majority of Americans surveyed believe dropping atomic bombs on Japan during World War II was the right thing to do, but support was weaker among Democrats, women, younger voters and minority voters, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The Quinnipiac University poll found 61% of the more than 2,400 American voters questioned believe the U.S. did the right thing. Twenty-two percent called it wrong and 16% were undecided.

Read the whole article:

It seems more people need Hiroshima and Nagasaki to become real for them. I have been fortunate to visit memorials at both cities and it was moving to say the least. Seeing firsthand the magnitude of destruction, even decades later, brings an emotional response that cannot be lessoned by supposed logical arguments of justification or propaganda. The dropping of the bomb was wrong. Period.

elin o'Hara slavick's experiment of attempting to visualize the experience is important and commendable. Not all Americans will be able to travel to Hiroshima, but perhaps this work will give them a better idea of what went on. This is an experiment testing the powers of visual anthropology and its practical application for developing understanding among various peoples and world peace.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Visual Aids for Lay Judges?

From today's Daily Yomiuri Online:

Technology helps lay judges / Both sides use simple language, graphics to make their cases

Both the prosecution and defense used various techniques aimed at presenting statements in an understandable way on the first day of the first lay judge trial Monday, using such measures as displaying maps and pictures on electronic screens and making eye contact when addressing lay judges.

Efforts by lawyers to communicate clearly with lay judges, who were participating in a trial for the first time, included paraphrasing technical terms and employing nonverbal methods, such as using computer graphics to detail a victim's wounds.

Read the whole article:

There has been much attention paid to the new court system in Japan where real people from the public will serve with judges in determining guilt or innocence and punishments for defendants in criminal cases. I believe this new system is a good idea and has potential to democritize Japan's out of date and out of touch court system. Judges and lawyers alike have a parental attitude towards the public and often believe that ordinary people do not understand the nuances of the court system. Thus we read reports of how the new system is trying to simplify matters for the lay judges. So-called visual aids are one example of this.

Rather than a "dumbing down" of the courts so that ordinary people can serve as lay judges and make tough decisions, what this new system has the potential to do is to bring the court and its elite down to earth and back to reality. In this respect visual means of explanation should not be seen as substitutes for sophisticated courtroom discourse, but rather resources to aid in understanding and facilitate dialogue and discussion of real life and death matters.

This is the goal of visual anthropology. Real life communication is a multi-media event. Japanese courts should be in tune with the people they purport to serve.

Is my attorney reading this?

Yasukuni Update

(Korean version of the movie poster; image borrowed from Japan Focus.)

It's been a while since I have posted on Li Ying's controversial film, Yasukuni. A nice update of events by John Junkerman (Li Ying’s “Yasukuni”: The Controversy Continues) can be found at Japan Focus.

Junkerman begins his text: On March 5, 2009, the first hearing in a civil suit against Chinese film director Li Ying was held in the Tokyo District Court. It was, ironically, twenty years to the day since Li first took up residence in Japan, and a year after his documentary, “Yasukuni,” became the center of a political maelstrom when all five theaters scheduled to premiere the film suddenly cancelled their screenings.

The cancellations were prompted by threats from right-wing nationalists to disrupt the screenings, coupled with harsh criticism of the political slant of the film by conservative members of the Japanese Diet... Dozens of civil liberty and media organizations responded with statements condemning what was seen as political censorship, and theaters across the country stepped up with offers to screen the film.

“Yasukuni” will have its US premiere at the Film Forum in New York on August 12, and it will open at more than a dozen theaters in South Korea on August 6.

Also of interest for visual anthropologists dealing with privacy issues is discussion of one of the current lawsuits againt Li.:

The suit against Li came as something of a surprise, given that the film’s theatrical run had ended and the DVD had already been on the market for some four months. The plaintiff is Kuroiwa Toru, a man who appears in a short, 90-second scene early in the 123-minute film. He is claiming violation of his right to privacy.

Kuroiwa was filmed having a casual conversation with two other men on the grounds of Yasukuni Shrine on August 15, during the annual commemoration of the end of the Pacific War that is the centerpiece of Li’s film. He claims that he was unaware that he was being filmed and has suggested that Li used a hidden camera. (Li counters that he used a large, quite visible video camera and filmed from only several feet away.)

Kuroiwa described his motivation for filing the suit in a public declaration in February: “I absolutely cannot condone grave acts of aggression against the honor of Yasukuni Shrine and the heroic spirits of the dead, and by extension against the dignity of our country.” He goes on to declare his determination to fight in court against “this film’s Chinese director who brazenly commits this kind of uncivilized violence.”

Read the whole article:

The Region 2 (Japan, Europe) version of the film is available on DVD; I haven't been able to clarify if English subtitles are included.

Seattle III: The New and Improved Jimi Hendrix Grave and Memorial

The Jimi Hendrix Memorial at Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton, Washington. Are the blurry patches of light spirits? Notice the kiss mark in the foreground (see below)...

Jimi's original grave marker.

Kisses for Jimi.

Jimi overlooks Mount Rainier.

Offerings for Jimi.

Jimi overlooks an Asian Memorial.

For more information:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

NON/APPEARANCE · A Collaboration Between Dada Docot and Keiko Kamma

I just received this announcement from my friend, Dada. I have been impressed with her work dealing with globalization, immigration and discrimination. Click here for past posts about her films and exhibitions.

NON/APPEARANCE · A Collaboration Between Dada Docot and Keiko Kamma

August 7- 9, 2009; 3-8 pm
Live Happening on August 8, 6-8pm
at the Ginza Art & Concept Laboratory
Yogashi "West" 2F, 7-3-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0016
Phone: 03-5537-5421 Fax: 03-5537-5421


Description from announcmeent:

Reminiscent of Simon Popes’ controversial “Gallery Space Recall” exhibition in Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, NON/APPEARANCE also displays an empty gallery space. But, whereas Pope’s aim was to encourage people to walk around the empty rooms and discuss memories of other galleries, Docot was just plain denied her Visa to Japan. Hence, the non-exhibition. Uncannily, this denial was the cherry topping to her exhibition that was formerly called DIS/SIMILARITIES.

Working on the premise of her absence, Docot collaborates with Japanese artist Keiko Kamma, multimedia artist and Director of the Ginza Art and Concept Laboratory. Kamma will document the empty gallery during the scheduled exhibition dates and walk the absent artist’s "untaken routes" on the date of her (Docot) visit to the gallery. This video will be shown together with a streaming video of the artist in Manila on the original date of the artist’s talk.

This thorough documentation of emptiness and absence makes tangible the very concept of the exhibit that did not materialize, creating a succinct platform for the artists to explore to the fullest the semantics of tension and persecution of migrants crossing, or in this case, staying within borders. JAJA ARUMPAC

Seattle II: Portraits of Mooney

My host, tour guide, mentor, surrogate Godfather/Uncle...

The relationship with the author goes back a long ways. This photo by Chas. K. Fedorowicz circa 1975.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Exotic" Seattle

I was in Seattle for a couple days in July. Here are some photos from the Pike Place Market. While I have seen comparable markets in other parts of the world, this one certainly is visually stimulating. I found it exotic because of all the white people there... Does this make me a racist? Have I been in Japan too long?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Does this costume represent Japanese culture? Apparently not...

(photo borrowed from Japan Today, Picture of the Day, 7/23/09)

From Japan Today, 8/1/09:

Barrage of complaints force Miss Universe Japan to change costume design for finals

Oh so many issues and problems to deal with from this "national costume." But for us visual anthropologists interested in representation, this quote is telling:

Yoshitaka Tsujimura, board chairman of Shizuoka’s Tsujimura College of Japanese Clothing, said of the design, “Our entire faculty was shocked at how obscene it was. For those who have never seen a real kimono, it may be fine, but to us it just looks like someone’s efforts to strip the garment into something lewd and cheap. This woman is going to be representing our country, and she has no right to ruin the image of ‘proper Japanese clothing.’ I’m quite frankly relieved to know they’ve decided to change the design.”

Do clothes make the (wo)man? Do clothes make the culture?

Read the whole story: